Safety issues: the unlicensed & unprofessional

as promised, i’ll try and share a little more information as i become aware of safety issues in the nrv area regarding tattooing and piercing.  brought to my attention today by one of our local artists,  there is an area  tattoo and piercing shop that not only has a staff of unlicensed and untrained tattooists and piercers, the shop itself does not  have a tattoo or body piercing business license or permit to operate.  this information is confirmed by the department of occupational and professional regulation.  now is a good time to begin broaching some of the specific issues that can threaten one’s safety by unlicensed and unprofessional shops.

let’s talk about the necessity of having a separate biohazard room.  this is a room dedicated solely to scrubbing and preparing instruments that have been contaminated during the tattooing or piercing process.  whether legally mandated or not, this room is absolutely imperative, as we will see.  ideally, whenever possible, an artist will use disposable one-time use instruments.  unfortunately, due to expense, disposables are not always an option.

at this time i’ll let you in on one of the darkest secrets of Virginia tattoo and body piercing statutes, or lack thereof.   as unbelievable as it may seem, a separate bio-hazard, or dirty utility prep room is not legally mandated in the state of Virginia.  how does this tie in with shops that are unlicensed as a business, or are staffed by unlicensed personnel.  well, if a shop owners standards are so low that they can’t be bothered to obtain the minimum  safety training required for an operators license, or the individual artists have not undergone the minimum requirement for their licenses, then what are the chances that there is a separate biohazard room in the establishment?

it costs several thousand dollars  to build, so it’s unlikely that artists with low standards will bother to go to the expense.  so where are they cleaning and prepping the contaminated instruments prior to sterilization?  would it make you sick  to learn that this was being done in the public restrooms in some area shops?  picture a woman who has unknowingly set her purse and cosmetics down in the aforementioned restroom.  lipstick, comb, toothbrush, etc., all contaminated by the disgusting practice of washing out tattoo tubes and piercing instruments in the public restroom.

Don’t believe it?  It happens every day in the Roanoke and New River Valleys. Walk into each area tattoo shop and ask to see their separate bio-hazard or dirty utility room.  we’re  proud to show you ours.  we have a great deal of money and time invested in it.  you should clearly see a completely enclosed room with running water, autoclave bags, cleaning instruments, and an ultrasonic cleaner.  there should not be any other supplies stored in the dirty utility prep room, especially bandages, inks, soaps, paper towels, gloves or any equipment that is used in the tattoo or body piercing procedures.  this helps to prevent cross contamination.  there should be no autoclave sterilizer in this room.  the sterilizer should be separate and apart from the dirty utility prep room and the tattoo and piercing procedure rooms.   this helps prevent cross contamination.

if shop personnel appear nervous or ill at ease when asked where their dirty utility prep room is, that’s your cue that something is wrong.  if a dirty utility prep room is on premises, that’s a favorable sign that your safety may be a priority in that studio,  as we shall see, it’s not a guarantee, but it is a favorable sign.  in the next few days, we’ll examine some other methods that can help to assure your peace of mind and safety.  it’s clear that state health and licensing authorities can’t be depended on, so it’s up to you and me.

agree or disagree, feel free to drop me a line from my web site.  click “contact us”

your friend,

saint john rowan