Kentville tattoo artist Jason Mahar says he’s glad the province is finally moving forward with its Safe Body Art Act but most shops are already mostly following or exceeding the regulations.
The act was proclaimed Tuesday and will take effect, along with its regulations, next Feb. 1 to ensure safe practices and products are used for services such as tattooing and piercing.
“It’s fantastic, and we’re surprised it has taken this long, actually,” Mahar said at his Kentville shop, Everlasting Ink.
He said his shop knew some of the things the government was looking for and prepared ahead of time.
Hand-washing stations were one of those things.
“We always don a new pair of gloves before we touch the skin or any of our instruments anyway, so there’s no chance of anything (being spread),” he said. “And we always use 70-per-cent alcohol on our hands, so that, in my opinion, is better than soap.”
He said he hopes that the new regulations will keep people from doing tattoos out of their homes, using suspect materials and equipment purchased online.
While there haven’t been provincial regulations in place, “we’ve been following industry regulations for a long time,” Mahar said. “We always follow what’s been across the board in Canada and the U.S.”
He said his travels across both countries have introduced him to the best practices, which he and others in the province have adopted.
He said he doesn’t expect there to be any boost in business with the regulations in place, because most artists are already running safe shops and customers know that.
“We all have our blood-borne pathogens courses up to date all the time, so there’s one thing we’ve been all doing for years that we didn’t have to do but we do because we want to,” he said.
He said he was disappointed that the provincial regulations didn’t include an age restriction.
“They said it’s not an issue to them, but it is an issue because if they come out with regulations that don’t have an age restriction, we’re going to have 12- and 13-year-olds lining up at our door saying ‘well, technically it’s not illegal,’” said Mahar.
He said artists in the province won’t do tattoos for anyone under the age of 18, unless they are over 16 and have parental consent.
“But without regulations, some of these shops that open just for money will do anyone who walks through the door. They don’t care,” he said. “That’s why we’re worried.”
The Department of Health and Wellness is responsible for the act and regulations. The Department of Environment is responsible for enforcement.
“The Safe Body Art Act and its regulations are an important part of protecting public health and safety,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said in a provincial government news release Wednesday.
“These regulations can give Nova Scotians more confidence that licensed operators are following appropriate infection control steps to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis B and C.”
The act was first proposed in 2011.
Permits will be required for people who sell body art services in Nova Scotia, and they will need to meet standards for infection prevention and records management.
More information on the act is online at www.novascotia.ca/nse/ environmental-health/bodyart. asp