Eating and drinking while giving someone a tattoo; an artist’s long hair hanging into the tattoo; these are just a few of things you likely won’t see in local tattoo parlours thanks to Vancouver Coastal Health’s Shelley Beaudet, senior environmental health officer. Shelley has seen these health violations, and then some, as she and other environmental health officers inspect tattoo parlours across the region.
Tattoo parlours are inspected yearly, or more if required, or if complaints come in from the public. Shelley and the other health officers check the shops to ensure they comply with the B.C. Public Health Act and the Regulated Activities Regulation.
“We’re looking to see if these shops have sinks for good hand washing, that they use disposable needles …anything that could prevent the transmission of a possible illness or infection.”
If proper health precautions are not used, tattooing can possibly spread blood borne communicable diseases such as:
- hepatitis B virus (HBV)
- hepatitis C virus (HCV)
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
If officers find a shop with serious health violations we will take serious action and even close a business if necessary. Closure of a tattoo shop hasn’t been necessary in Shelley’s 27 years (!) at VCH. “Most shops are well run. They know the rules. There are also new products available, so it’s easier for shops to be compliant. Many of the high risk items are disposable now. There are even thin disposable plastic bags for the machine’s cords. Rather than go through a long disinfection process, you just throw away the bag. This product wasn’t around 25 years ago.
In the past we used to see many violations with the use of autoclaves, a unit that sterilizes items by steam under pressure. The modern tattoo shop has more and more disposable equipment to the point that a shop can even operate without an autoclave.”
Do not go to an underground tattoo place in someone’s home. Look for a shop that is in a licenced commercial location and is being inspected regularly. You want someone closely looking at health practices. You can even check online and review the last inspections
You should ensure that good practices are followed including:
- artists wash their hands before starting the procedure
- artists use gloves and replace them if they touch something that may be contaminated
- artists remove equipment from sterile packages that are laid out on a clean tray in front of you
- there is an aftercare sheet given to you
- they keep records of your name and address, just in case they need to follow up
- surfaces in the treatment area are smooth in finish and washable
- the shop is visibly clean and uncluttered
- everything that artists touch, like the lamp and squeeze bottle is covered with a disposable barrier film (plastic wrap)
- equipment such as cords and motors are covered with a disposable plastic barrier.
Be safe and enjoy your new ink!