Mike Riina: How to Recognize Aseptic Technique in a Tattoo Shop
Let me first start by saying, I am in no way an OSHA instructor, nor am I qualified to teach anything about blood borne pathogens, or principles of infection control. That being said, I’ve had these classes every year for 10 years. The stuff taught in these classes is smart, easy to remember, and can save your life. I wonder why then, so many tattoo artists continue to do inappropriate things like let their clients wander the studio un-bandaged, bumping into shit, or preparing their set up without gloves…
Thank you TLC for putting such ridiculousness on television for people without knowledge of the subject to form opinions. Here are some very simple, basic things a client can look for in a tattoo artist’s aseptic technique…
When you enter the studio:
- Does it look tidy?
- Does it smell clean?
- Is your artist trained in said blood borne pathogens and principles of infection control?
- Is there a visible certification?
- Is the studio properly licensed by local and state authorities?
- Did you fill out paperwork/release from?
- Did your artist wash his/her hands, and don gloves before he/she dealt with their set up?
- Is all equipment properly covered: table top, mayo stand/work station, clip cord, foot switch, machines? Admittedly a machine bag is the last of barriers I started using. But a tattoo machine is a dirty instrument (most can’t be run through an autoclave) and one should try to protect their clients to the best of their ability. As well as themselves.
- Were the needles and tubes removed directly from the sterile package, with gloves on? I once saw a tattooer on TV do their WHOLE setup without gloves on. Including opening the packages. Effing gross for your clients guy. Seriously.
- Did your artist properly dispose of your needles? Into a sharps container?
- When done did they use an approved cleaning/disinfecting agent to wipe their equipment and tattooing surface?
- If they are using reusable equipment (steel tubes), do they have an autoclave? Does it work properly and can they explain its use to you? (Our studio uses all disposable equipment, just to remove the hassle and dirtiness of cleaning tubes.)
Then there are some things so basic, they’re ridiculous… I worked next to a guy once who answered his phone with dirty gloves on. If your artist is answering his/her phone while gloved, or picking up something dropped on the floor to use, you need a new artist. Period. Regardless of talent/skill level, every tattooer should be striving to do the cleanest procedure they can… Hepatitis, HIV, TB, MRSA and other, more general, staff infections are no joke. That shit can kill you. For realsies…
(Mike can be found at Eclectic Art Tattoo in Lansing, MI.)
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