"If you're currently offering these services in Bartow County, you'll be required to have a permit under the Bartow County Health Department," said Tim Allee, district environmental health director for Northwest Georgia Public Health. The new measure will go into effect January 2011, but licensing begins this July.
"With the growing popularity of body art," Allee said, "we've had a significant increase in reports of unsanitary, unsafe conditions, primarily with a small number of in-home operations. There are no state regulations, but neighboring health districts and the State of Tennessee have begun enforcing similar rules, driving less scrupulous practitioners into unregulated counties in Georgia."
According to Pam Robinson, environmental health manager with Bartow County Public Health, "the local body-art community welcomed the opportunity to establish standards protecting its customers' health and safety and worked closely with us to develop practical requirements to do so. Individual artists and studio operators must be licensed annually, and licenses must be posted in a conspicuous area where they may be readily seen."
Robinson said body artists will be required to take a one-time test to insure they understand the new regulations and standard health-and-safety procedures and to take continuing education courses to maintain proficiency in CPR, first aid and blood-borne pathogen precautions. She also said body-art establishments will be inspected at least twice a year. "These consumer-oriented rules are intended to protect the customer," she noted.
According to Robinson, consumers should expect "a generally clean and orderly environment in a body-art studio" and cautions that "at no time should a body-art procedure be performed in a home environment." She said body-art customers should always ask up front about sterilization and after-care procedures and added they should always observe if the body artist:
* has a generally clean and healthy appearance,
* practices good hand washing and wears gloves and
* opens sealed instrument packages in their presence.