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Have You Got Your Therapists Back?

Friday 12th July 2019.

The Spa and Wellness industry has exploded tenfold over the last few years with more and more sites being built almost every month not only in the UK but worldwide.

There is an abundance of beauty products coming onto the market along with a plethora of new and innovative treatments which sees everyone clambering to get the next great beauty tip, treatment and products.  With this in mind one of the most fundamental asset to any spa and beauty business is your Therapists, without them there would not be a spa or beauty industry; but yet still their health and wellbeing are often forgotten.  They may end up working long hours with very little breaks, carrying out treatments and using products that can have a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing.

A well managed spa will have robust health and safety management system in place based on employee requirements, working environment and client safety.  It will include bespoke Risk and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health assessments (COSHH) highlighting the hazards and controls of the working environment, treatments and products that are being used.

Bespoke Risk and COSHH assessments are key for the protection of therapists and the assessments must take into account any special medical matters, whether they are on any medication, have any allergies or a new and expectant mother.


We have seen an increase in the number of reported cases relating to therapists that are suffering from occupational dermatitis (due to the products they are using), musculoskeletal problems some which have been life changing, stress and issues with pregnancies that have contributed to miscarriages. 

One of the most recent cases is that of a Therapist who miscarried in her first trimester, the cause is not known for sure, however, a bespoke expectant mother risk assessment had not been carried out, only a generic one; the assessment did not take into account:

  • Datasheets of the products, in particular, essential oils that she was using
  • Whether she was on any special medication or dietary supplements that may have caused a contraindication of the products that she was handling
  • The types of treatments that she was carrying out or
  • Monitoring of her workload

The above areas are only the tip of the iceberg when carrying out a risk assessment on a new or expectant mother.


Another Therapist had two miscarriages all in the first trimester; during a detailed discussion with her Consultant, he highlighted that there was a strong possibility that her miscarriages could be connected to a key ingredient in a certain product that she was using on her clients several times a day almost every day.

There are certain oils that should not be used during the first trimester of pregnancy due to the effects of starting contractions as well as harming the foetus.

We mentioned earlier in this article about musculoskeletal problems; there seems to be a trend to move towards central booking systems and there are cases where therapists have been booked to carry out back to back massages with very little breaks in between leading to short and long term medical conditions, such as upper limb disorders, repetitive strain and back injury.  This, in turn, has lead to a reduced workforce - putting more pressure on the other therapists, creating a stressful environment and possibly an unrelaxed client after their treatment.  This does nothing for the health and wellbeing concept that the business is aiming to provide.

 It has also been reported that if a Therapist does not carry out a certain number of massages in a day and generated the income expected, they are sacked.  If this is true then this shows the industry in a poor light as the employer is putting profit over staff safety, which the courts take a very dim view on.

It is important that Spa Directors, Managers, Therapists and Spa Consultants are aware of the hidden dangers of the products that are being used in their businesses and know what controls they need to put in place.  It is important to remember that once you have a robust health, safety and wellbeing management system in place, that is understood and implemented by the entire organisation (top down bottom up) then you will have your Therapists backs covered.


This article was produced by Hygenisys Environmental Health Consultancy – specialist in Spa, Wellness, Leisure Health and Safety compliance management systems.  To request a complimentary consultation of your current systems please email info@hygenisys.com