Ramazzini; Blog on work and health by Annet Lenderink


Back, neck and shoulder problems in hairdressers

Hairdressers are exposed to a variety of hazards in the workplace. These include chemical agents (products for hair), physical agents (noise, temperature) and ergonomic hazards (inappropriate posture during work, demands for service quality, long work hours without breaks, etc.). A cross-sectional study of hairdressers working in beauty parlours located in two central districts of the city of São Paulo (Brazil) was carried out from April 2002 to February 2004 and reported in the article by Gisele Mussi and Nelson Gouveia  (in Occupational Medicine 2008 58(5):367-369, free abstract):

Prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Brazilian hairdressers


Background: There are occupational risks inherent to the activities of professional hairdressers, which are not frequently studied, and therefore not considered in the formulation of health policies for this group.

Aims: To verify the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) in hairdressers through symptom reports, to characterize the most frequently affected anatomical parts and to identify and analyse risk factors of WRMDs in hairdressing.

Methods: A cross-sectional epidemiological study of 220 hairdressers from beauty parlours in São Paulo (Brazil) was carried out. Each hairdresser completed a self-administered questionnaire which included information on socio-demographic characteristics, working conditions and health-related musculoskeletal system complaints. Ergonomic analyses were also performed in six parlours.

Results: The prevalence of WRMDs was 71%. Risk factors were associated with psychosocial factors and factors related to discomfort and work fatigue such as lack of acknowledgement of work and uncomfortable posture at work [odds ratio (OR) = 3.54; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.51-8.30], not feeling comfortable with body/neck/shoulders while working (OR = 2.78; 95% CI 1.40-5.54) and having >15 years of professional activity (OR = 3.04; 95% CI 1.17-7.91).

Conclusion: Occupational risk factors associated with the development of WRMDs in hairdressers are related to biomechanical, organizational and psychosocial work factors. The high prevalence of WRMDs found highlights the importance of disseminating recommendations for prevention of symptoms with regards to the provision of suitable furniture, equipment and work tools, environmental conditions, size of workplace, work organization and psychosocial work factors.


Filed under: Musculoskeletal problems,

2 Responses

  1. amy says:

    Since is started hairdressing I had shoulder problems, its moved down to my bones causing costochondritis.. Every part of my body is in pain, all the time…

    • Sylwia says:

      Hi Amy,
      I too have same, woke thinking I couldn’t breath! I currently have the breast bone pain for 2 weeks now. Have u any advice please? Thanku

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