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760-1408, Suspect Infections; Procedures Suffolk County, New York. Last Updated 10-20-2006

 760-1408 Suspect Infections; Procedures


This section Paragraph (1) is copied verbatim from Food establishment standards.

The threats posed by food handling and contamination of food are entirely different than tattoo/piercing. This section, as a copy of Article 13 is not acceptable.

1. When the Commissioner or any duly authorized representative has reasonable cause to suspect the possibility of disease transmission from any body art establishment employee or procedure,

OSHA and CDC have dropped the use of expressions like "possible" and "possibility" and replaced them with the approved expression "reasonably likely" which more closely reflects the meaning and intents of the Standards. The use of these expressions in the Article should be changed to reflect current thinking which will clarify intent.

It is surprising to discover here that when faced with an infection the Department will automatically assume the employee or procedure is the source and commence an investigation based on that premise. This may be a method used for the spinach fields of California but it is not appropriate for body arts. It is clear from this that conducting an investigation is too challenging for the Department and this section must be removed.


A further concern is what constitutes "reasonable cause to suspect." One can image that a doctor has a patient who has a skin infection on a tattoo/piercing she got a week ago (notice that we word this not "from" a tattoo but "of or on" a tattoo- an important distinction to prevent misunderstanding). Will this constitute cause to suspect the employee or shop? We are concerned that an infection, even an easily treated or self-resolving one will be considered reasonable cause to suspect an employee or shop as the cause, which in turn will/could trigger an investigation that will likely disrupt business, cause public embarrassment, stigmatize and prejudice the general public without corroborating evidence, such as a cluster of cases from the same shop.

We are concerned that statistics will be used against body arts to attribute disease to body arts whereas we believe studies support the view that

1) fewer infections occur after body art procedures than occur in the general population. (The conclusion of the 1999 study done at the William-Beaumont Hospital.) And

2) The most likely cause is contamination after leaving the shop coming from the clients themselves or other sources.

The Commissioner or any duly authorized representative shall secure a medical history of the suspected employee

Applying food handling contamination distorts the investigatory pattern that would be appropriate for tattoo/piercing. We believe the Article incorrectly focus all attention on transmission routes from employee or procedure to the client overlooking the most probable exposure: the client, afterwards. This is not mentioned because food contamination is likely from the source of food production.  Of course. Therefore, taking a history as the first and primary tool will confuse the determination and may violate an employee's expectation of privacy and fair play.  We believe this supports our view.

Or make such other investigation as may be indicated, and take appropriate action.

Because the Article is misappropriated from food handling, body arts are looking for assurance that “such other” and "appropriate action" is appropriate.

The Commissioner may require any or all of the following measures:

a. The immediate exclusion of the employee from all body art establishments;
b. The immediate closure of the establishment concerned until, in the opinion of the department, no further danger of disease transmission exists;
c. Restriction of the employee's services to areas of the establishment where there would be no danger of transmitting disease; and
d. Adequate medical and laboratory examinations of the employee, of other employees, and of his, or their body discharges, consistent with the applicable laws.

These actions may be reasonable for food preparation plants and restaurants, but are not appropriately written to reflect the unique properties of body art.

2. When a body artist, operator of the establishment is made aware that a customer/patron suspects that his/her body art procedure might be infected

The word "procedure" should be dropped to prevent any misunderstanding.

it is the obligation of the personnel affiliated with the establishment to direct that customer or patron to seek medical attention. Documentation of this report is to be written onto the customer record.

The Department’s intent to assure that suspected infections get medical review and attention is the desire of all body art shops. Non-clients often walk into shops to discuss many things about their body art, including asking about infections. In our view this procedure should be part of aftercare and apply to anyone walking in seeking attention and advice. Since no medical advice is given, no action taken by the shop but a suggestion that they consult their health care provider, recording the event should not be discouraged but be a matter of discretion because this also applies to non-clients. Short of recording and taping the interview written notes are only written notes.

3. A body artist who is under the influence of alcohol or taking medication or drugs that could impair the artist's ability to safely perform body art procedures in any way, shall not conduct any body art procedures on any clients or patrons.

Almost all medications and drugs have warnings that they may impair abilities to perform activities. The _expression "could", to better reflect current terminology should be removed.

The question is not longer "could" but likely to or does impair.
We take seriously the safety concerns when a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol performing body art procedures. It would be more to the point to prohibit any body artist from performing body art procedures while the artist is in an unsafe condition, physically or mentally and leave it performance oriented in conformity to OSHA suggestions to fit any unsafe body artist condition.
Wes Wood
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These are personal views and opinions of Wes Wood and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Unimax Supply Co Inc.
Copyright 2006