Proposal to tighten Salem tattoo parlor rules offered

SALEM – A proposal to strengthen local tattoo regulations beyond what the state requires includes provisions requiring individual licensing for tattoo and body piercing artists and a lot more required hours of training.

Scott Guappone, who serves as manager of State Street Tattoo in Salem and also serves as the tattoo establishment representative to the city health department’s District Licensing Council, first approached board members last month about making changes locally to require more of artists.

When asked about the proposal presented to the city health Board Wednesday, he said he was very satisfied with it. Guappone and city registered sanitarian Bill Hayward had been asked at the last meeting to return this month with a proposal in writing, which they did. Hayward noted that one of the major elements is the number of hours of training.

Guappone explained that the current state regulations require verification of training, but don’t specify a certain number of hours. Most of the additional requirements proposed were modeled after Mahoning County’s local tattoo regulations, but with a large increase to the number of hours of hands-on training.

Mahoning County requires 180 hours of hands-on experience for tattooing, 80 hours for body piercing and 260 hours for combined tattooing and body piercing. The city proposal requires 8,500 hours of hands-on experience for tattoing, 4,000 hours for body piercing and 8,500 hours for combined tattooing and body piercing.

Guappone noted that the state requires 1500 hours of training for a cosmetologist, but none for a tattoo artist or body piercer who’s dealing with people’s blood and skin.

“We feel that’s not a sufficient amount of time for the training,” he said.

The hours requirement falls under the section requiring each artist seeking registration to provide evidence of appropriate training. The proposal also requires an apprentice to provide a statement signed by the instructor who must be a registered tattoist or body piercer.

Just like in Mahoning County, the proposal for the city requires each individual artist in a shop to secure a license/registration. The current state regulations, which the city follows now, only require the shop to secure a license.

The proposal also outlined requirements for sterilization and disinfecting of all equipment, accessories and the environmental surfaces, along with listed alternate sterilization methods. Guappone said the city’s version includes a requirement for a list of the manufacturers used for individually packaged single-use needles or other instruments for alternate sterilization methods.

Health Commissioner Richard Setty said the proposal should be run by city Law Director Brooke Zellers for his feedback.

“My main concern is we don’t overlap or duplicate what’s going to be in the new state regulations,” he said.

Both Hayward and Guappone said the new state rules, which take effect Sept. 1 and are reviewed every five years, deal mostly with language changes, not changes to provisions.

Mayor John Berlin questioned if a recommendation would come from the District Licensing Council, suggesting the council look at the proposal and then bring its recommendation to the health board. The health board will then review the proposal and if it’s agreed, have Zellers review it for proper form before they take a vote.

Guappone indicated last month that requiring licensing for individual tattooists is a way to stop people who have no idea what they’re doing and to protect the public. When members of the public go to a licensed shop, they’ll know they’re also getting a licensed tattoo artist who meets the requirements for licensure.