Hardly one in five Belgian tattoo shops complies with regulations

With the increasing popularity of tattoos, tattoo shops are booming business. This also applies to Belgium, although tattoo shops here do not seem to follow the rules for running such a business. No less than 80 percent of the controlled shops do not comply with all regulations. ​ This is evident from figures that CD&V MP Els Van Hoof requested from Public Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit). CD&V wants the Federal Public Service (FPS) Public Health to step up controls.

It concerns figures for the period 2019-2021. They show that in 2019, 39 of the 48 tattoo shops checked were not in order. In 2020, 60 of the 74 shops checked were not compliant. In 2021, only 6 shops were checked because of the corona crisis, but 4 of these were found to be not in compliance either.

"The fact that so many violations are found is worrying. And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg," says Van Hoof. According to the CD&V politician, the fact that so many violations have been found is not without risk. "The careless placing of tattoos can have serious consequences. For example, it can lead to allergic reactions, infections or other serious medical complications."

At 23 per cent, the most common offence is the tattooist's failure to register with the FPS Public Health. According to the minister, a total of 1,995 tattooists are registered. Based on the number of offences, the minister estimates that there are some 450 unregistered tattooists active in Belgium.

Those who are not registered are in principle not allowed to practice their profession.

"A tattooist can only be registered if he passes an exam after a twenty-hour course on sterility, hygiene rules, first aid and risks of infections and bleeding," Van Hoof notes.

About 11 percent violate the rules for sterility and hygiene. This concerns, for example, exceeding the maximum expiry date of sterile needles and inks. In 19 percent of cases, there is no visible information about health risks at the workplaces.

CD&V MP Van Hoof calls for more checks.

"In recent years we have seen a clear trend towards fewer inspections: from 119 inspections in 2015 to 74 inspections in 2019 and 48 inspections in 2020. This downward trend must be broken. It is true that tattoo shops were closed for a long time between November 2020 and March 2021. Now that the worst of the coronapandemic is behind us, more inspectors need to be on the road again," Van Hoof concludes.



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