Laser hair removal and waxing among leading causes of injuries in hair and beauty sector

Claims over eyelash extensions and chemical peel treatments on the rise.

Laser hair removal and waxing are among the leading causes of injuries in the Irish hair and beauty sector, including scarring and burns, but claims over eyelash extensions and chemical peel treatments are increasing, according to data from the Injuries Resolution Board.

The board received 437 claims related to the hair and beauty sector between 2019 and 2023 and made 96 awards totalling €1.2 million, said Dr Lauren Swan, the board’s head of research and policy. Its research, she said, was prompted by an RTÉ Prime Time investigation earlier this year into injuries within the sector.

Women accounted for almost all – 96 per cent – of the 437 claims submitted, and the average age of claimants was 38.

Most claims, 75, related to laser hair removal, while 56 concerned waxing, 45 alleged an allergic reaction to dyes and tints, and 43 related to facial treatments.

Scalp burns as a result of dye accounted for 37 claims, 32 related to the use of botox/filler, 23 concerned nail treatments, and 19 concerned eyelash extensions.

Total claim volumes for the sector were 30 per cent lower last year than in 2019, but it is unclear whether this is due to improved health and safety within the sector or is a lingering effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.

Claim volumes were lower in 2023 across all injury causes, except for two beauty treatments – eyelash extensions and chemical peel treatments – where claim numbers increased.

Of the €1.2 million awarded, €260,000 related to slips, trips and falls, €112,000 to waxing, €106,000 to scalp burns, €104,000 to facial treatment, €89,000 to laser hair removal, €76,000 to nail treatments, €68,000 to hair damage, €60,000 for allergic reactions and €325,000 for other causes.

Dermatitis or other skin conditions and facial scarring and burns occurred respectively in 22 per cent and 21 per cent of cases. Non-facial scarring and burns accounted for 13 per cent, and hair damage and eye injuries accounted for 11 per cent each.

In relation to treatments for the injuries, 38 per cent required antibiotic treatment, 24 per cent were administered steroids and 5 per cent required healthcare visits for care of wounds.

Dr Swan presented the data during a recent conference marking 20 years since the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, now known as the Injuries Resolution Board (IRB).

Overall, the board made more than 9,000 awards totalling €170 million last year, a drop of more than €100 million on the €275 million awarded in 2019.

Of the 2023 awards, most, 6,230, concerned motor claims, 1,629 public liability, and 1,285 employer liability.

Average award values were 23 per cent lower than in 2020 (before the introduction in April 2021 of judicially approved guidelines slashing awards for mainly minor injuries), but 17 per cent higher than the average 2022 award, said Dr Swan.

The board is now assessing more complex injury claims, she said. Neck and back injuries no longer account for most cases assessed and that decline coincided with an increase in awards for psychiatric damage.

As the board is the central body responsible for the collection of data into more than 20,000 accidents every year, it is hoped its research function will continue to inform evidence-based policy in the areas of accident prevention, public health and wider insurance reform, Dr Swan said.

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