IF YOU are considering getting a tattoo or a piercing at a mate’s place tonight – think again.
Many people think that the hardest decisions about having a tattoo done are the design and colour, or where the tattoo should go.
However, you should be more concerned about the real risks of infectious diseases, including hepatitis C, according to Bega Valley Shire Council’s environmental health co-ordinator, Greg O’Donnell.
“The most important decision is who you select to do the tattoo or body art,” he said.
“Most body and tattoo artists should know the potential risks to themselves and their clients of infections from contaminated equipment and surroundings.
“A professional artist practises good hygiene, follows standard infection control guidelines, such as sterilisation of equipment, and is happy to discuss with clients their shop’s approach to customer health and safety.”
Mr O’Donnell said people under 18 years need parental permission for tattoos or piercing.
“Tattooists or body piercers are committing a criminal offence and can be fined or imprisoned if they tattoo an under-18 without written consent from a parent or guardian.”
He said the greatest risk for transmission of infections came from “backyard” operators who did not follow the advice of tattooist associations and infection control recommendations of health authorities.
“Such operators may work from home or from unregistered tattoo shops.
“In NSW, councils only register tattooing premises.
“The NSW Health Department requires tattooists to comply with Skin Penetration Guidelines (part of the NSW Public Health Act).
“Unregistered tattooists may not care about their professional reputation or business and, while they may charge a lot less than other tattooists, the risks of infection are greater.
“Having a tattoo done in a person’s home or anywhere other than a registered business can carry great risk.
“For that reason, council does not register any home-based tattoo or piercing businesses or any mobile sites such as people working from a van or caravan.”
Mr O’Donnell said people considering getting a tattoo should check out the studio and:
• look for a certificate of registration from council - it should be displayed prominently in the shop.
If they don’t have a current certificate of registration then by law they cannot perform any body piercing or tattooing;
• look for clean hygienic premises. Check benches, sinks and other work areas;
• ask the tattooist if they use new needles each time – if they reuse needles, ask how they are sterilised;
• ask if you can watch someone else being tattooed and observe if the operator washes his or her hands and then dons new disposable gloves for each client; ensures the area to be pierced is disinfected; opens pre-packaged sterile equipment in front of the client; uses separate small containers of ink for each client instead of one big container for many clients; and explains everything to the client and fully answers any questions.
For more information, phone Greg O’Donnell on 6499 2222 or email council@begavalley .nsw.gov.au