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Tattoo Guidelines

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General Guidelines for Tattooing and Micropigmentation Service Settings

  • Contact surfaces must have a smooth non absorbent finish.
  • Work area must be well lit.
  • Setting must be equipped with at least one sink for hand washing which is conveniently located near work area but at least one metre away from clean or sterile supplies. Sinks must be continuously supplied with potable hot and cold running water, dispensable liquid soap and single-use hand towels in a dispenser.
  • If there is only one sink available on the premises, it may be used for both hand washing and cleaning of equipment/instruments providing it satisfies specific requirements.
  • All equipment/instruments must be of durable construction, in good repair and in clean and sanitary condition.
  • All biological monitoring, blood and body fluid exposure and client records are to be kept for five years; at least one year on-site.
  • Immunization with Hepatitis B vaccine is strongly recommended for all personal service workers.

Operational Requirements and Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines

  • Service is to be provided in a manner that reduces the risk of transmission of microorganisms to the client and the personal service worker.
  • Service is to be provided in a manner that prevents disease transmission.
  • Routine Practices are to be used with all clients during service delivery and include:
    • Hand hygiene.
    • Clean, non-sterile gloves for:
      • Contact with blood or body fluids. 
      • When handling visibly soiled items. 
      • When the personal service worker has non-intact skin. 
      • Other situations as appropriate.
    • Face protection and gowns when appropriate.
  • • Hands must be washed for at least 15 seconds with soap and warm running water:
    • Before and after each client treatment.
    • Immediately before and after applying and removing gloves and,
    • When otherwise appropriate.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (containing 60-90% alcohol) may be used if hands are not visibly soiled.
  • All equipment/instruments that cannot be easily and thoroughly cleaned will be considered as single-use disposable.
  • All reusable equipment/instruments are to be cleaned then either disinfected or sterilized after each use. *
  • Manual cleaning involves the use of a detergent and water solution and scrubbing (the use of friction) to remove soil.
  • All product labels for disinfectants must have a drug identification number (DIN), with the exception of hypochlorite. *
  • Clean items must be stored separately from dirty items to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Contact surfaces that cannot be easily or adequately cleaned and disinfected between use must be covered with single-use disposable covers and the cover is to be discarded after each use.
  • Manufacturer’s instructions are to be followed for dilution, use, reuse and contact time of disinfectants. *
  • Only autoclaves, dry heat sterilizers, chemical autoclaves are approved methods of sterilization; sterilization is to be maintained until point of use. **
  • Physical and chemical monitoring are to be used during each sterilization load. **
  • Biological monitoring (spore testing) is to be done bi-weekly (every other week).
  • The Personal Service owner/operator must contact their local health unit for every sterilizer failure immediately upon notification from the laboratory.
  • All sharps that are intended for use to penetrate the skin and/or mucous membranes must be provided as sterile, single-use disposable items; an approved sharps container is to be used for used disposable sharps immediately after each single use.
  • Sharps containers must be discarded in accordance with biomedical waste regulation.

Additional Requirements to General Guidelines Before

Beginning Tattooing Procedure

  • Only single-use, disposable, sterile needles may be used.
  • All supplies required for tattooing and micropigmentation are to be assembled and set up immediately prior to starting the procedure
  • Prior to using disposable ink caps that are supplied in bulk quantities, individual ink caps must be cleaned and then disinfected with an intermediate level disinfectant (eg. 70 %-90% isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes). *
  • After needles are attached to the needle bar, they must be cleaned (i.e. using an ultrasonic cleaner) before sterilization.
  • Disposable ink caps must be discarded immediately after each client. Any leftover ink must be discarded. If additional ink is required a new ink cap is required.
  • All reusable ink caps must be sterilized between clients. Single use caps are preferred. Ink cap holders are to be high level disinfected.
  • Liquid used for rinsing between colours must be placed in disposable cups. The liquid and cups must be discarded after each client.
  • A sufficient number of tissues or wipes required for use during the procedure must be dispensed prior to the service. Any assembled unprotected or unused tissues/wipes not used, must be discarded after each client.
  • Do not tattoo within six inches of inflamed or infected skin, or skin with a rash.

Additional Requirements to General Guidelines After Completing Tattoo

The entire needle bar assembly (ie. needle bar with attached needles) must be discarded into an approved sharps container immediately after each tattoo or micropigmentation procedure. Used needles and needle bars must not be handled or manipulated
prior to being discarded.

  • If a tattoo machine is not used for micropigmentation, the needle holder device on the pen/instrument must be single use disposable or cleaned and then sterilized before it can be used again.
  • Any leftover products must be discarded. They may not be returned to their original containers and must not be used on another client.
  • If stencils are used they must be single use and discarded at the end of the procedure.
  • Reuseable tubes must be disassembled, if appropriate, prior to cleaning.
  • The tattoo must be covered with an individually packaged dressing or bandage intended for covering wounds.
  • Clients must be given verbal and written information regarding tattooing after-care, such as:
    a) Discuss appropriate after care for tattooing and micropigmentation.
    b) Clean hands immediately before touching tattooed area.
    c) Discuss the expected healing time of the site with the client.
    d) Describe possible complications and their signs and symptoms.
    e) Advise on how to deal with slight redness, pain or swelling.
    f) Recommend consultation with a family physician if the problem doesn’t improve within 24 hours.

* Refer to pages 46-48 inclusive, in the Best Practices document for cleaning and disinfection procedures.
** Refer to page 49 in the Best Practices document for steps to sterilization of instruments.
Please also refer to pages 60-64 inclusive (Table 6), in the Best Practices Document for detailed infection prevention and control procedures for Tattooing and Micropigmentation.


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