In previous articles, we have discussed body art regulations, laws and ordinances and how they apply to the daily operations of body art establishments around the country and around the world. A vast majority of the time, government regulations are triggered by job related illness incidents involving injuries and even deaths. Other times, government regulations and laws are enacted because the nature of the business carries inherent risks. The bottom line is government regulations are implemented to minimize or prevent customer and employee health risks and keep business owners protected from potential high dollar law suits. Regulations will not always completely protect these businesses from being sued but will certainly help in court to show the business did their due diligence to demonstrate they made a valid attempt to comply with local laws. Regulations in the body art world are designed to provide artists and body art establishment owners a framework of safe procedures to keep clients and artists free of potential disease events.
Laws and ordinances can get very frustrating because law experts such as attorneys, local government city councils and county commissions write them based on their understanding of the laws that are applicable to a business where a specific health hazard is present such as blood and bodily fluids. In the body art world, government regulators and lawyers usually lack a full understanding of what body art specialists do and how they operate. In the past 15 years a trend toward involving actual body art establishment owners in the formulation of regulations has resulted in a collaboration resulting in a final document that contains common sense and logic on the body art side but also adds the required legal elements on the government side.
Ordinances, regulations and laws are famous for referring the reader to federal regulations, state regulations and other applicable laws without giving a specific answer. Body art business owners are left to attempt to make sense of these complicated ordinances and laws and continue to do business in the complex, vague and confusing world of laws that regulate their daily life. There’s a valid reason when ordinances refer to other applicable laws without providing a specific answer. Laws are updated, amended, changed, adjusted and must be flexible to adapt to new technology. By referring to other applicable codes, they maintain a reasonable level of accuracy and avoid including exhaustive technical references from other codes that could add hundreds of pages to the ordinance. Remember, once an ordinance is enacted and official, it could take years to change or amend it so by referring to other applicable laws, an ordinance will remain accurate for a very long time and not require constant changes based on other applicable laws that could change on a monthly basis.
Although the recent collaboration between body art business owners and government regulators has gone well in most cases, there are still areas in ordinances where government regulations can get vague and confusing. Most body art ordinances contain certain references to other applicable laws. It happens in almost all ordinances, laws and regulations around the country whether they regulate food safety, air quality, medical facilities, dental offices, tanning shops, nuclear power facilities or any area where an accident could result in great bodily harm or death. As a 25 year restaurant health inspector, the local food ordinance and federal food codes that regulate the food service industry are very specific in most cases. Areas like cold holding temperatures, hot holding temperatures and cooking temperatures require numeric values be reached and documented every time. In other areas of the ordinance, however, it’s not unusual to come across statements like, “installed and operated according to city code” or “sized and maintained according to law” or “must comply with city fire department standards.” In the plumbing section of the food ordinance, it refers to a completely separate plumbing code nine times in one paragraph.
Body art ordinances are no different. For instance, a typical government reference dealing with contaminated waste will state, “Red bags must then be disposed of by or delivered to an approved medical waste facility pursuant to but not limited to 29 CFR Part 1910.1030 and the state jurisdiction pertaining to solid waste management regulations promulgated by the particular state’s environment department or similar special waste regulating entity.” Another interesting reference appears regarding the disposal of contaminated waste, “Storage of contaminated waste on-site shall not exceed the period specified by the state’s environment department or similar special waste regulating entity.” You can start to see the potential frustration levels on the part of body art establishment owners after reading vague statements like that. I have worked with hundreds of body art establishment owners since 1998 and most genuinely want to follow the rules if they are explained and interpreted in clear, concise ways.
That’s where city, state and county health inspectors can help. Most health inspectors are trained to decipher, translate and make sense of government references like that. Next month, we will decipher some of the “other applicable laws” and where to locate those references.