Personal Services Settings

Personal Service Settings Inspection Reports

What is a Personal Services Setting (PSS)

As part of its mandate under the Ontario Public Health Standards, 2018 and the Infection Prevention and Control Protocol, 2019, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) inspects personal service settings (PSS) to improve infection prevention and control practices and to minimize the risk of blood-borne/other types of infections during the delivery of personal services. PSS refer to settings in which aesthetic services are delivered, such as but not limited to:

  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Body piercing and ear lobe piercing
  • Waxing and facials
  • Hairstyling and barbering
  • Tattooing and micro-blading
  • Body modification (branding, scarification etc.)
  • Electrolysis and laser hair removal
  • Microdermabrasion

Public health inspectors (PHIs) at Ottawa Public Health (OPH) routinely inspect these establishments to ensure that service is delivered in accordance with the Ministry of Health's Ontario Regulation 136/18: Personal Service Settings to prevent the spread of  infections (eg. blood-borne, fungal etc.)

Residents are urged to consider their own personal safety before obtaining personal services. Learn more about what to look for in a specific service before and during your appointment.

Residents are also encouraged to look for a certificate - issued by OPH - that ensures the premises has been inspected by a Public Health Inspector. They can visit the Personal Service Settings Inspection Results to review the most recent inspection history of all PSS in Ottawa.

Investigation of complaints

All complaints are dealt with in confidence. If you have any questions or concerns about a personal service settings, you can contact Ottawa Public Health

Four steps to protect when visiting a Personal Service Setting

Four steps to protect yourself

  1. Know before you go
    • Ottawa Public Health inspects personal service settings located in private homes and commercial settings such as hairdressers, barber shops, tattoo and body piercing studios as well as facilities that provide electrolysis, acupuncture and various other aesthetic services.
  2. Look around and ask questions
    • Take time to observe staff practices to ensure they are using clean tools and have clean hands
    • Ask staff any questions that you may have. 
  3.  Make an informed decision
    • If you are uncomfortable with what you see or what you hear, do not be afraid to refuse the services
    • You have the right to receive a safe services with clean tools and clean hands
  4.  Report concerns or complaints
    • You can help prevent the spread of serious infections

Piercing and tattooing services

What is piercing?

There are two types of piercings:

  • An earlobe piercing may be performed using an ear piercing machine/gun or done using a needle. Remember that ear piercing machines/guns are intended for use on the earlobe only and are not intended for use on any other part of the body. 
  • Body piercing involves the insertion of jewellery, rings, studs, bar bells, etc. into tissue using a needle.  Sites on the body that may be pierced include the ear lobe, eye brow, ear cartilage, nose, naval, lip, tongue, etc. A hollow needle is passed through the tissues on the body part followed by the insertion of the body jewellery in the hole.  The jewellery pushes the needle out through the tissue opening created by the needle.

What is tattooing/micropigmentation/microblading?

Tattooing refers to any method of placing ink or other pigment into or under the skin by the aid of needles or any other instrument used to puncture the skin, resulting in permanent or semi-permanent coloration of the skin.

What are my health risks?

Micro-organisms that can cause disease in humans are called pathogens (aka germs).  Humans are protected from many pathogens by the skin or mucous membranes.  When the skin is opened/broken/pierced, pathogens have an opportunity to enter the body.  This can result in infections or the transmission of disease.

Pathogens can be transferred from equipment to a person when the skin is penetrated.  Equipment can be contaminated by infected blood and body fluids by an infected  client or  worker.  Some pathogens that can be introduced this way are hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Infection control precautions must be followed to protect both the client and worker..  

Know before you go

Learn more about what to look for in a specific service before and during your appointment by reviewing the following factsheets:

Manicure and pedicure services

What is a manicure and a pedicure?

Manicures are cosmetic treatments meant to improve the appearance of fingernails and hands. They may include filing, cuticle care/trimming, shaping, hand massage, applying polish or paraffin wax treatments.
Pedicures are cosmetic treatments meant to improve the appearance of toe nails and feet. Pedicures include cutting of the toe nails and the removal of dead skin and calluses from the feet using a foot file or pumice stones. Some businesses offer leg care below the knee, which may include granular exfoliation, applying moisturizing creams and a leg massage.

What are my health risks?

Instruments and equipment used for manicures and pedicures can become contaminated with blood or body fluids that carry disease- causing micro-organisms such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV or other infectious agents, such as bacteria or fungi. Fungal and bacterial infections can appear as discolorations in the nail that spread toward the cuticle and cause pain, redness, itching and pus around the nail area. Foot baths have been linked to outbreaks of skin infections, caused by mycobacteria.

Know before you go

Learn more about what to look for in a specific service before and during your appointment by reviewing the following factsheet:

Electrolysis and laser hair removal services

What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a method of permanent hair removal. Common areas treated include the chin, legs and eye brows. During electrolysis, an electric current is conducted through a needle inserted into the hair follicle, destroying hair growth cells.

What is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal devices operate by emitting a pulse of infrared radiation that is targeted at the pigment in the hair and causes destruction of the hair follicle while not damaging the surrounding skinLaser hair removal can be performed on virtually any part of your body including your arms, legs, bikini area, back etc.

What are my health risks?

Electrolysis is an invasive procedure where instruments and equipment used can become contaminated with blood or body fluids that carry disease-causing micro-organisms such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV or other infectious agents, such as bacteria or fungi. Ensure that appropriate eye protection (i.e. goggles) are worn by you and the personal services worker.  During laser hair removal, equipment that may have accidently come in contact with blood or body fluids  may carry disease causing micro-organisms such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV or other infectious agents.

Know before you go

Learn more about what to look for in a specific service before and during your appointment by reviewing the following factsheet:

Personal Service Setting at Special events

Special events: Application guidelines

Special events in the City of Ottawa that offer personal services on-site must comply with all applicable sections of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Ontario regulation 136/18 Personal Service Settings

Special events include conventions, expos, shows, and fairs. 

These guidelines are intended to be used for special events attended by the general public or industry representatives where personal services are provided, such as: 

  • Hairstyling 
  • Barbering 
  • Tattooing 
  • Micropigmentation 
  • Microblading 
  • Ear piercing 
  • Body piercing 
  • Electrolysis 
  • Manicures 
  • Pedicures 
  • Aesthetics (facials or waxing) 

Special Event Organizer  

  • Special Event Organizers must notify Ottawa Public Health by completing and submitting the Special Event Organizer Application Form a minimum of 14 days prior to the event.   
    • The completed application form shall be accompanied by a site plan indicating all areas to be used and the location of all facilities and activities, including the location of:  
    • Vendor setup (indoor/outdoor) 
    • Types of Services that will be offered  
    • Structured vendor handwash stations (needs approval from OPH) 
    • Washrooms 

The event organizer is responsible for ensuring the venue is maintained in a sanitary condition at all times during the event. 

Event Organizer(s) are to ensure all Personal Service Setting vendors submit a Personal Service Setting Special Event Vendor Application Form.  

Special Event Vendor  

The vendor must fill out the Special Event Vendor Application Form to OPH within 14 business days prior to the event. 

All personal service vendors must ensure that workers at the event are aware of the  

IPAC requirements and maintain these practices for the services they provide. 

Working Environment 

Due to the risk of contamination with the outside environment, OPH does not permit invasive PSS services, such as tattooing and piercing at outdoor special events, except for vendors that have enclosed mobile units.

  • Enclosed mobile units must be in compliance with the Personal Service Settings Regulation. O Reg 136/18, including:
    • sufficient lighting
    • solid walls and hard flooring that is smooth, non-absorbent, and easily cleanable
    • screened windows and doors
    • handwash basin equipped with potable hot and cold running water under pressure with soap and paper towel
    • wastewater collection within the unit and disposed of in a sanitary manner

The event vendor is responsible to ensure their booth is always maintained in a sanitary manner during the event. 

Each booth area must be well lit to facilitate cleaning and prevent injuries. 

The booths shall be sectioned off to ensure limited public access where services are being provided. This is to ensure infection prevention and control (IPAC) standards can be maintained. 

Contact surfaces such as counters, trays, and tables must have a smooth and non-absorbent finish to allow for proper cleaning and disinfection. 

Chairs must be made of a material that can be cleaned and disinfected between clients. If chairs must be covered, the cover must be single-use and discarded between clients or cleaned and disinfected between clients. 

Soft surfaces such as grass, sand, gravel and mud require flooring. Acceptable flooring at the event includes: 

  • Plywood 
  • Rubber mats 
  • Pavement  

Hand Hygiene  

All personal service workers must perform hand hygiene before service delivery and as required during and after service.   

Invasive service hand hygiene requirements (i.e. tattooing, piercing)  

  • 70 to 90 per cent alcohol-based hand rub will be available at each booth   
  • The structured hand wash station will be located within vendor booth   
  • The structured hand wash station will be accessible during service   
  • The structured hand wash station will be equipped with potable water, soap and paper towel    

Non-invasive Service Requirements (i.e. make-up application, waxing)  

  • 70 to 90 per cent alcohol-based hand rub will be available at each booth   
  • The structured hand wash station will be available in a convenient location and accessible during service  
  • The structured hand wash station will be equipped with potable water, soap and paper 

Instruments and Sterilization   

Reprocessing/sterilization of instruments is not permitted onsite.  

It is recommended to use instruments that are single-use disposable and to bring multiple instrument sets for service on-site.   

For items sterilized at a business location, you must have readily available onsite the name and address of where the items were sterilized. 

For items purchased pre-packaged and sterile, you must have readily available onsite the name/address/telephone number of the supplier(s). 

Any re-usable item must be placed into a covered puncture-resistant, leak-proof container immediately after use. The container will be labelled “Dirty items – do not use”. These items will be brought back to the business location for proper cleaning and disinfection.  

Client and Vendor Health and Safety 

Each vendor must: 

  • have an adequate amount of skin antiseptic and clean, single-use, disposable swabs on-site to cleanse the skin prior to any procedure where skin will be punctured such as tattooing and piercing.  
  • maintain client records for all services provided
  • maintain records of accidental blood and body fluid exposures  
  • provide clients with verbal and written after-care information after all invasive procedures. 
  • Eating, drinking, and smoking while providing a service is not permitted. 
  • Immunization against hepatitis B is highly recommended for those providing invasive services.

Cleaning and Waste Disposal  

Garbage, sharps, single-use tools/instruments, and liquid waste must be disposed of in a sanitary manner. Liquid waste must not be disposed of on the ground. 

Use an approved sharps container for the disposal of all sharps (i.e. needles, razors). All sharp containers must be disposed of in an appropriate manner and not with municipal garbage.  

Maintain tabletops/storage containers in a clean and sanitary manner.  

Organizers and vendors must contact OPH by dialing 613-580-6744 to consult with a Public Health Inspector prior to the event if they have any questions about infection prevention and control practice requirements. 

Personal Services Setting Notification and Plan Review Form

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is committed to working with new and existing business owners to prioritize the health and safety of patrons and employees.  

Prior to opening, renovating, or relocating a Personal Services Setting business, owner/operators are required to submit an electronic copy of floor plans indicating all sinks, reprocessing areas, food and beverage preparation areas, and storage areas (equipment and sinks labelled) to OPH for review and approval.   

Owners/operators are also required to notify OPH, prior to adding new services to ensure that the business is equipped with the service specific requirements.  

In accordance with the Personal Service Settings, O Reg 136/18, please complete the Personal Services Setting Notification and Plan Review Form at least 14 days before commencing the operation.  

Additional Infection Prevention and Control information can be found on our website, Personal Services Settings - Ottawa Public Health  

Should you have any questions, please contact OPH to speak with a Public Health Inspector at 613–580– 6744. 

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