By Jessica Lovell
If you’re thinking of getting your legs waxed, your nose pierced, or getting that special someone’s name inked on your, uh, shoulder, you’ll soon have access to an online database where you can check out establishments to see whether they’re up to code – before you undergo that painful procedure.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is working on adding “personal service settings” to its Check Before You Choose online inspection disclosure system.
“The eventual goal of the health unit is to have more sites that are inspected included,” said Janice Walters, manager of infectious disease programs at public health.Currently, restaurant inspections are viewable on the website for all dining establishments and food premises in the health unit’s domain. But the health unit hopes to add nail salons, tattoo parlours and the like, and to eventually include public pools down the road, said Walters.
They are facilities that the health unit already inspects.
“We have over 300 personal service settings – everything from hair salons to tattoo parlours,” said Walters.
In Guelph, it’s easier for the health unit to keep track of the different premises, because there is a bylaw requiring them to be licensed, she said.
Outside of the city, the health unit finds out about new personal service facilities through its work in the community, she said.
Each facility is mandated to be inspected at least once a year or whenever there is a complaint, she said.
And the health unit does get complaints, although Walters could not provide a breakdown of how many.
“We do get lots of complaints about techniques,” she said, noting that consumers seem to be aware of what are acceptable practices in personal service settings.
“A huge piece is just around infection control practices,” Walters said of what inspectors look for when they visit a facility.
Just like in the food service industry, hand washing is also important in personal service settings, she said. Staff must log incidents of nicks and cuts, do regular spore testing, use appropriate disinfectants and chemicals, and change those chemicals regularly, she said.
The health unit also looks to make sure single-use tools are discarded and not reused.
“We do get people who complain because they’ve developed a serious infection,” said Walters.
That’s why it’s so important that people do their research before they visit these types of facilities, she said.
“I don’t think everybody in the public understands their risk,” she said.
Currently, information gathered in the inspection process is available to the public upon request, so if you want to check up on your barber, you can. It may just take a little longer than the website, said Walters.
The health unit is waiting on a couple of things before it brings these inspections to the website, though.
The Ministry of Health is currently developing a new risk-assessment tool that will be used in the inspection process, and the health unit wants to incorporate this tool when it adds the inspections to its current online disclosure system, said Walters. “We are waiting to hear from the ministry so we don’t set up a system that has to be changed,” she explained.
As well, the health unit has applied for a funding grant that will help cover the administration costs associated with putting personal service setting inspections on the website, and will hopefully pay for more technology, said Walters.
The health unit is hoping to provide tablet computers to its inspectors to facilitate uploading the information to the website, she said.
It is still waiting to hear whether it will get the funding.
For that reason, Walters could not say exactly when the inspections would be included in the disclosure system. But when they are, facilities will be given window clings and cards advertising the checkbeforeyouchoose.ca. URL, just as restaurants are, said Walters.
These bring the inspections to the public’s attention. And with a wide range in inspection results, it’s valuable for the public to know that they can check out the results, said Walters.
“We see a very large continuum among operators, and I think it’s the public’s right to know before they choose,” she said.
By Jessica Lovell