The BMB Health & Safety

Online Course 

The British Master Barbers Official online health and safety course offers all barbers the opportunity to gain further knowledge of required H&S protocol.

Learn the current Health and Safety protocol below then take the 30 question course.

By passing the course you will receive a certificate that you can print out, frame and display in your shop.

Show your customers you have the knowledge in the most important area of the barbering industry.

Show your professionalism.

General Barbershop Health and Safety Rules


  General rules are in place to ensure that you create a safe environment and project a professional image to clients.

  • Always wear gloves when shaving

  • Clean and sterilise your tools and equipment between every client

  • Keep the barbershop clean and tidy

  • Don’t leave wires trailing

  • Sweep up all hair after each client

  • Wear correct and adequate personal protective equipment

  • Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene

  • Wash hands regularly

  • Keep nails tidy

  • Keep breath fresh

  • Cover cuts or open wounds

  • Do not wear dangling jewellery

  • First aid box should be suitably stocked and in a properly identified container

  • Used blades must be disposed of in a suitable sharps contain out of the reach of clients and children

  • Wash towels after every use to prevent cross contaminations between customers

Health and Safety laws



As a Barber YOU are responsible for the health and safety of your business and its clients. The health and safety laws are designed to ensure you are working in a safe environment and that you reduce any risks to yourself, your staff and your clients.

By law you must do the following:

  • Manage health and safety in the salon (or appoint someone else to oversee it)

  • Have a health and safety policy, which must be in written form if you have five or more employees.

  • Manage and reduce - where possible - the risks in the salon, which must be in written form if you have five or more employees.

  • Advise, consult, train and inform any staff on health and safety.

  • Provide appropriate welfare facilities (eg, toilet, washing facilities, drinking water etc)

  • Ensure the working environment is safe and healthy (eg, good ventilation, temperature etc)

  • Ensure you have an accident book, first aid kit, Sharps box for used razor blades and sterilising equipment.

  • Display the Health and Safety poster.

  • Ensure everyone is aware of the fire procedures.

  • Ensure you have suitable insurance cover ( Get advice from your insurance supplier and make are you are covered for all aspects connected with your business)

  • Keep up to date with any changes to the law.

Health and Safety Legislations


There are many health and safety legislations that are applicable to our industry:


Health and Safety at Work ACT 1974 (HASAWA)

  • Employers are responsible for providing, as is reasonably practical, safe systems of work, without risk to health


The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE)

  • Employers are responsible for providing suitable PPE

·         In the average barbershop, PPE will include: gloves, gowns, towels & aprons


The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation 1992 (COSHH)

  • Employers must control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace

  • Everyone should be aware of how to store, handle, use and dispose of these products

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

  • These regulations require that certain measures must be taken when manual handling and lifting to avoid skeletal and muscular injuries

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

  • RIDDOR places a legal duty to report:

Work related deaths

Major injuries or over 3 day injuries

Work related diseases (eg, dermatitis)

Dangerous occurrences (near miss accidents)

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

  • All electrical equipment must be regularly (preferably annually) checked for electrical safety

  • The check must be carried out by a “competent person”, preferably a qualified electrician and is called PAT testing

The Fire Precautions Act 1971

  • A ‘responsible person’ should carry out a fire risk assessment and ensure that precautions are implemented based on the results

  • As a result of the assessment, there must be a policy in place which aims to minimise the risk of fire, reduce the spread of any fire, provide means of escape and take preventative action


Data Protection Act 1998

  • You must keep information secure

  • You must ensure information is accurate and relevant to your needs

  • You must comply with individual’s requests for information that you are holding

Health and Safety advice Specific to Barbering


A consultation is a MUST before you start ANY service! It is a verbal agreement between yourself and your client. You must use this time to ensure you know exactly what your client wants and explain to them anything that may affect the finished result that they expect. During the consultation you should ask open questions to ensure that you get the most information you can. This can help with finding out previous illness or medications currently used and will also help you to be able to suggest better styles that may suit them.

Sanitising solutions

Barbicide is the most commonly recognised sanitising solution and is used to clean and disinfect your tools. To dilute the solution concentrate, similar to how you would dilute squash, mix one part Barbicide to eight parts water. The solution needs replacing daily. You can put combs, brushes, scissors etc to disinfect regularly. Although these solutions say they will not harm your tools, it is not recommended that you leave them soaking for long periods of time – a minimum of 10 minutes is an effective amount of time. Remember to clean and sterilise your combs between every customer.

Protect your customer

When providing any treatment for your client make sure they are protected.

use a clean gown to protect their clothing.

Neck strips and tissues are also commonly used to prevent cross contamination between your client and the gown / Cape. When cutting facial hair protect their eyes with cotton wool pads or eye defenders.

One Man, One Blade

It is so important to always use one blade per client regardless of how much or how little you use the blade. Always discard the finished blade after use. This is not only for your client’s health and hygiene but also required by law.

You must always dispose of your blades in a properly labelled sharps box and disinfect the razor after use. Make sure this is out of the reach of clients and children. It is good practice to replace a new blade on in front of your client so they too can be confident and assured that you are following good health and safety.


Always, always, always wear gloves when using an open razor. This is the law and protects yourself and your client. If you wear gloves from the beginning then it will become natural for you to work with gloves on and will not create any problems.

Tools and Equipment

Remember It is vital that you clean and sterilise all your tools, equipment and work station after every client. Not only does this look professional for your clients but also ensures that no cross contaminations occur.

Clean combs after each client with a brush to remove debris and then sanitise.

Cleaning shaving brushes must be done after every shave. Always clean your shaving brush with warm soapy water and then put it into a UV cabinet to make sure it is completely free of germs and bacteria.

Barber Chairs

Barber chairs are a key feature of the barber shop, so it is worth time and investment to ensure the chairs that you purchase are high quality, comfortable and functional. It is important that chairs have a head rest, foot rest, are height adjustable and have a reclining back - these features will ensure maximum comfort for your client and allow you to carry out additional services such as shaving. When shaving or cutting facial hair, the reclining back is needed to ensure your client is positioned correctly for maximum comfort to yourself and your client. Try not to lean over as this can cause back ache; move around the chair where possible. Position your tools for ease of use to make sure you don’t overstretch.

Remember It is vital that you clean and sterilise all your tools, equipment and work station after every client. Not only does this look professional for your clients but also ensures that no cross contaminations occur.

Clean combs after each client with a brush to remove debris and then sanitise.

Cleaning shaving brushes must be done after every shave. Always clean your shaving brush with warm soapy water and then put it into a UV cabinet to make sure it is completely free of germs and bacteria.


A good quality pair of clippers will save you a lot of time and money. Clippers should be an investment for a barber as they will be in frequent use. Before you make a purchase, spend some time researching what is on the market and find the best one for you. You will need to ensure that your clippers remain in good working order and some basic care and maintenance will keep your clippers performing their best for longer.

Keeping the clippers clean - Check clippers are clean, sanitised and free from any excess hair between every haircut. If necessary, use a cleaning brush to remove any hairs or dirt that are in harder to reach areas. If left unchecked this can cause damage to your clippers. Clipper spray will disinfect the blade as well as prevent rust, wear and tear and also keep your blades cool.

Checking the blades are aligned – You should check the alignment before every haircut. If they become unaligned, they can cut your clients skin which is both painful for your client and very unprofessional. To check the alignment of your clippers, move the taper lever upwards and hold the clippers sideways and look down the length – the static blade should always be over the moving blade about 0.5mm. If not aligned correctly, use a screwdriver to remove the blade and realign. Be careful when you screw the blade back on. make sure you alternate between screws to ensure the blade doesn’t twist. Always remember to regularly visually check to ensure the blades are aligned correctly.

Foil Shavers

Extra care should be taken using foil shavers as continual close cutting can cause ingrowing hairs which can lead to infection. The foil shavers need to be cleaned throughly after every cut.

These can be sanitised by removing the head clean out debris and place in sanitising solution or spray with sanitising spray.

Electrical Equipment

All electrical equipment including clippers and hairdryers should be PAT tested every year to make sure they conform with safety standards.

Physical Conditions




Working in the hairdressing and barbering trade puts us at high risk of suffering from contact dermatitis. In fact, according to statistics from the HSE, our trade is in one of the occupation categories with the highest reported incidences of skin disease in the UK.

Dermatitis is a skin inflammation caused by exposure to allergens or irritants that cause the skin to become red, blistered, dry, scaly and cracked. Although dermatitis can affect the whole body it is most common in the hands and face. The condition can vary in severity, however in serious cases the sufferer may have to leave the barbering trade.

In this industry, there are many factors that can cause this skin condition including:

·         Repeated over exposure to water

·         Not drying hands properly after shampooing and colouring

·         Sweating inside gloves

·         Contact with irritants including shampoos, tints and bleaches


There are things you can do to minimise the risk of developing dermatitis including:

·         Drying hands thoroughly after contact with water

·         Wearing gloves when handling chemicals

·         Washing and drying hands after each client to remove any product

·         Moisturise your hands with suitable moisturiser


Sometimes dermatitis can be avoided; if it is a particular allergen in a product that has caused it then you may be able to avoid that product in future. However in barbering most of the time this is not possible. If the skin condition is persistent or severe, you will need to seek medical advice.

Ingrowing hair

Ingrowing hairs are caused by continual close cutting. To help avoid ingrown hairs, exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells and allows your hair to grow without restrictions.


Many barbers report musculoskeletal problems. In this industry, you are on your feet for the majority of the day so you need to ensure you minimise the risk by:

- Keeping good posture

- Adjusting and reclining the barber chair height to suit

- Placing tools for ease of use

- Taking regular breaks

Hair Growth Patterns

Recognising hairline and growth patterns is an essential part to your consultation. Not noticing or ignoring adverse growth patterns when cutting can cause significant problems. Sometimes these can be obvious, however, your client may have blow-dried his hair to disguise a growth pattern so make sure you look closely at potential problem areas when the hair is dry and also spray down and look when hair is in its wet natural state.

Cows lick       

A cows lick is a small section of hair, usually at the front hairline, that either stands up straight or lays in the opposite direction to the rest of the hair.

Double Crown

Normally, a person will have a section of hair at the crown of the head that appears to grow in a circular direction. A double crown is where this growth pattern appears twice, usually side by side.

Nape Whirl

A nape whirl is where the hair grows in a spiral or curved shape at the nape. This can be on either side of the head and sometimes can be both which will form a v-shape.

Widows Peak

A widows peak is a v-shaped point in the hairline in the centre of the forehead.


Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern baldness or alopecia androgenic is the most common cause of hair loss. This effects around 50% of men. The best advice for the barber to advise a shorter haircut that would improve the overall look.

Hair and Skin Tests

Hair tests are usually used prior to carrying out a chemical service so would not be often used in a barbershop environment.

Skin Test

Purpose of Test - To test for a reaction against colour

How - Mix a small amount of colour with peroxide and place it behind the ear with a cotton bud. Inform the client that it must stay on for 24-48 hours and advise the type of reaction that may occur if there is an allergy

Elasticity Test

Purpose of Test - To test the strength of hair

How - Take a few strands of hair between the forefinger and the thumb of each hand and gently stretch. Hair in good condition should return to it’s original length. Bad condition hair will not return and may break.

Porosity Test

Purpose of Test - To determine the condition of the cuticle

How - Take a few strands of hair between the forefinger and the thumb of one hand, with the other forefinger and thumb run your hand up the hair from end to root. If it feels smooth the hair is not porous, if it feels rough the hair is porous.

Strand Test

Purpose of Test - A preliminary test to determine the suitability or result for colour or bleach

How - Take a small test cutting from  the hair. Mix a small amount of tint or bleach with peroxide and apply to the cutting and await development. Rinse, dry and check result.

Incompatibility Test

Purpose of Test - To determine the presence of metallic salts

How - Prior to the service, a cutting is taken and placed in a solution of 20ml of 6% hydrogen peroxide and 1ml ammonium hydroxide. If it produces bubbles or heat or the hair disintegrates, the service must not be carried out

Development Test

Purpose of Test - To find out if a perm has fully developed

How - Unwind 1 perm rod 1 and 1/2 times and hold up and towards the scalp, if the size of the ’S’ shape corresponds to the size of the perm rod, the processing is complete

Personal Hygiene and Presentation


Cleanliness is one of the top factors men look for when choosing a barbershop. Maintaining a clean and tidy shop and having a high level of personal hygiene will mean clients subconsciously build trust in you.


Personal hygiene refers to cleaning and caring for your body. Maintaining good personal hygiene is necessary for personal, social and health reasons, however it is particularly important in the barbershop as you come into regular close contact with clients. Ensuring that you maintain a high level of personal hygiene will reduce risk of cross-infection and cross-contamination. Many businesses will have a clear set of guidelines for staff to follow – this avoids confusion and ensures everyone maintains the same high standard.


There are many ways to ensure that you maintain a high level of personal hygiene and presentation, avoiding offending your client and losing their business.  




As barbers, we work in close contact with several clients every day. Body odour can therefore be a major issue, especially on a hot, sunny day when the hairdryers are going full blast! Bathing or showering daily, wearing clean clothes and the use of anti perspirants will reduce the risk of body odour. 



Fresh breath is vital! Brush your teeth at least twice a day and avoid eating strong smelling foods such as garlic or onions for lunch. And all you smokers out there – a quick wash of the hands and a mint does not make the smell disappear, so timing is crucial. If you are about to do a facial massage with a shave, try not to smoke beforehand so that you don’t offend your client – after all, a client will not return for a bad smelling treatment.



Some services require you to be in your client’s personal space – especially when shaving or cutting facial hair. Hands should be washed regularly throughout the day to keep them clean and remove dirt and product, and nails should be kept neat, clean and tidy.



As a barber you MUST look after your hair. After all, if you cannot look after your own hair why should clients trust you with theirs?  Keep your hair clean, grease-free and in style. In this industry, people will judge a book by its cover.



Some barbershops have a uniform requirement – they may provide you with branded tops, or you may be asked to wear a certain colour scheme - and some barbershops let you wear what you want. It is part of the job to get your clothes covered in hair, so it is a good idea to separate your work clothes from your other clothes. Many barbers wear aprons, which will protect you to a certain extent.



Comfort is key when is comes to choosing work shoes. Barbers are on their feet for long periods of time and you do not want to be uncomfortable or in pain for the best part of the day. For safety reasons, most salons and barbershops will not allow open-toed sandals – this is a prevention of hair splinters and in case you drop anything sharp or heavy which could cause major injury. Also avoid wearing dirty or scuffed shoes as this will not make a good impression with clients.


Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is protective clothing designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection. In barbering, common PPE includes gowns, towels, aprons and gloves. It is also good practice in a barbershop to use neck strips or tissues before putting on a gown to avoid cross-contamination with the gown. Also, when cutting facial hair it is important to make sure the client’s eyes are protected with eye protectors, such as cotton pads. 


As barbers we are part of the fashion industry and the image we portray should reflect this. How we look is a big part of our individual personality. Clothes, shoes, tattoos, jewellery and most importantly hair all change with the fashion. Barbers and hairdressers therefore need to stay up to date to ensure they stay relevant to their clients.



Yes ✓

Cause: A bacterial infection caused by staphylococcal bacteria.

Symptoms: You will see redness around the follicle and there may be small, yellow pustules in the centre of the follicle around the hair

Advice: Possible contraindication, you may carry out the service if the area can be avoided. Advise them to seek medical attention.

Infections, Infestations and Disorders

With infectious complaints or infestations you should explain than you can’t continue with their haircut or treatment and recommend they visit their GP or local Pharmacy. With all scalp conditions remember you are not a doctor. If the client is concerned you should always recommend they seek professional medical advise.



Yes ✓

Cause: A bacterial infection caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria infecting the upper layers of skin

Symptoms: Small, red spots, which break to produce a thick yellow crust. When they have broken, the spots join together to produce a thick yellow crusted, infectious area

Advice: Do not carry out the service. Recommend they seek medical advice

Herpes Simplex


Yes ✓

Cause: A viral infection. Sometimes follows exposure to extreme heat or cold

Symptoms: The skin may tingle, itch or burn before one or more fluid filled blisters appear

Advice: Possible contraindication, you may carry out the service if the area can be avoided. Advise them to seek medical attention



Yes ✓

Cause: A viral infection. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV)

Symptoms: a small, rough growth resembling a cauliflower or a solid blister

Advice: Possible contraindication, you may carry out the service if the area can be avoided. Advice them to seek medical attention

Tinea Capitis (Ringworm)


Yes ✓

Cause: A fungal parasite which infects the scalp or hair

Symptoms: Circular to oval areas covered with scaly skin which may be red and inflamed and pustules can sometimes be seen. You may also see tiny black dots where hair has fallen out.

Advice: Do not carry out the service. Recommend they seek medical advice

Pediculosis Capitis (Head Lice)


Yes ✓

Cause: An infestation of the head.

Symptoms: You may see moving head lice or non-moving nits/eggs on the scalp.

Advice: Do not carry out the service. Recommend your client treat the infestation with an over the counter treatment.



Yes ✓

Cause: an infestation with a parasite - the scabies mite.

Symptoms: Intense itching and a rash. The rash consists of tiny red spots which may scab if scratched. The itchiness will often get worse at night when the skin is warmer.

Advice: Do not carry out the service. Recommend your client seek medical advice.

Pityriasis Capitis (Dandruff)


No ✗

Cause: Over production of skin cells causing flaking on the scalp

Symptoms: The scalp will be itchy and flaky; you may also see patches of red, scaly skin.

Advice: Continue with the service. Recommend they use an over the counter dandruff shampoo or seek medical advice if there is no response to self-care measures



No ✗

Cause: When hair follicles become blocked.

Symptoms: Greasy skin and whiteheads or blackheads on the face, back and chest. Occasionally if spots become inflamed they may become tender and painful to touch.

Advice: Possible contraindication, you may carry out the service if the area can be avoided.

Seborrhoea/ Oily Scalp


No ✗

Cause: Excessive secretion of sebum by the sebaceous glands.

Symptoms: The affected area can feel unpleasant, and. seem to get dirty quickly. The face and scalp may appear shiny and greasy.

Advice: You can recommend specialist shampoos or milder, more quality products



No ✗

Cause: Skin cells are reproduced at a faster rate than normal.

Symptoms: Red patches of skin covered by thick silvery-white scales. In extreme cases it can cause temporary hair loss.

Advice: There are shampoos you can buy designed to slow the production of skin cells and give some relief to the discomfort. Natural sunlight and sea water can be good for this condition.You should recommend extreme cases to visit their GP..

Sebaceous Cyst


No ✗

Cause: When sebaceous glands become blocked with sebum.

Symptoms: Small lumps and bumps under the skin that are soft to touch.

Advice: They will usually disappear on their own, you can advice your client to seek medical attention as in extreme situations they can be removed.

Fragilitas Crinium (Split Ends)


No ✗

Cause: Harsh physical or chemical treatments, overheating - including hairdryers and straighteners, weather and chlorine.

Symptoms: Dry, splitting hair ends. The hair may be very coarse and rough.

Advice: Recommend a good cut and conditioning treatments.



No ✗

Cause: It has many causes including infection, massage, electrical treatment, acne medication, allergies, sunburn etc. It is also a common side effect of radiotherapy treatment.

Symptoms: Erythema is a redness of the skin or rash  that usually erupts after 24 hours, starting on the hands and feet, and spreading to the limbs, upper body and face. It may cause a mild burning or itching feeling.

Advice: Refer to GP or Trichologist.

Androgenic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness)


No ✗

Cause: Thought to be caused by hormones and genetics.

Symptoms: Hair loss beginning at the temples or crown of the head.

Advice: None. You can recommend hair products (Regaine, Rogaine), or in extreme circumstances, hair transplants.

Other Alopecia Types


No ✗

Alopecia Areata – Typically causes patches of baldness but can cause complete baldness. Refer to trichologist.

Traction Alopecia – Caused by excessive pulling at the roots. This can be caused by brushing, straightening, plaiting or braiding.

Alopecia Totalis – Complete hair loss which can occasionally be initially caused by Alopecia Areata. Refer to trichologist.

Clatrical Alopecia – Balding due to scaring of the skin caused by physical or chemical injury.

Alopecia Universarlis – An auto-immune disorder that stops the production of hair all over the body.



No ✗

Cause: An impulse-control disorder where a person feels compelled to pull their hair out anywhere on their body. There is no known cause but Dr’s believe it is a form of addition to help relieve stress.

Symptoms: Bald patches which are an unusual shape and may affect one side more than the other.

Advice: Refer to GP or Trichologist.

Diffuse Hair Loss – Telogen Effuvium


No ✗

Cause: A loss of hair or general hair thinning that effects the whole scalp of both males and females. It is due to a premature loss of Anagen (growing) hairs and an increase in Telogen (falling) hairs.

Symptoms: A fairly even amount of hair shedding all over the scalp, making the hair appear thinner due to this excessive hair loss. 

Advice: Refer to GP or Trichologist

An overall Professional image


With so many barbershops on the high street it is important to make sure your business stands out from the crowd.

Promote your high standards and skill in allures of barbering. Always display your qualifications, awards and certificates


Personal appearance

A professional appearance is essential to success – no one wants to walk into any business with staff that look a mess! Uniform in the barbershop can vary drastically from shop to shop – a shirt and a bow tie is often seen in high end barbershops; some barbers prefer branded t-shirts, or smart uniform aprons. Whether you opt in or out of having a uniform, the important thing is that the staff’s image compliments the shop’s image.

Social Media

Taking time out to ensure that you have a good social media presence allows you to keep in touch with your followers. This is a good way to keep both regular clients and new clients up to date on any special offers, business updates, upcoming styles and last-minute appointments. How you conduct yourself on social media can affect your business. keep your private life and ranting off your professional pages.


Your website should clearly reflect the image of the barbershop - if your shop has a vintage feel for example then your website should reflect this. Make sure that it has a clear layout and is easy to navigate – not everyone is comfortable with technology or being online, so keeping things simple ensures your website is accessible to everyone. Make sure that you include essential information such as contact number, location, opening times, and prices.


Traditionally barbershops only offer walk in appointments, but a growing number of men now prefer to pre-book, over the phone or through an app or website. Few barbershops currently offer appointments, so this could be a good way to offer something your competitors do not.


Music in the barbershop is all part of the client experience, so choose wisely. Music is important in creating the right atmosphere and therefore should match the brand image you are trying to build. It also needs to suit the environment! If you use, play or listen to recorded music in your shop, the chances are you will need a music licence. The Music Licence allows you to legally play music for your staff or customers in your business through the radio, TV and other digital devices. PPL PRS Ltd is a new company, equally owned by PPL and PRS for Music. It has been created to provide customers with a streamlined music licensing service – TheMusicLicence – with a single point of contact to make it easier to legally play and perform music in public. Previously, businesses and organisations would have had to purchase two separate licences from PPL and PRS for Music instead.


It is a growing trend in the industry for salons and barbershops to offer a free beer, or a glass of wine or champagne with the haircut. However, you need an appropriate licence to be able to include alcoholic drinks as part of the service. If the supply of alcohol is linked to a sale – even if the client is not specifically being charged for the drink - then a licence is needed. So, if you’re not giving anyone who walks past the shop a free drink then, strictly speaking, the cost of the drink is included in the service and they are paying for it.

The British Master Barbers recommend that before providing any alcohol within your barbershop that you contact your local authorities to make sure you fall within the legalities required as rules differ between.

The British Master Barbers would like to thank

Mike Taylor Education and The Great British Barbering Academy

for all the support and assistance in creating this course.

Membership of the British Master Barbers Alliance is open to all British Barbers, from the aspiring barbers-in-training, to highly skilled qualified barbers.

Join today and make you and your shop stand out from the crowd