New standards are proposed for tattoo artists and piercers in the 13 Middle Georgia counties covered by the North Central Health District.
“In the state of Georgia there is a hodgepodge of regulatory oversight,” Macon-Bibb County Board of Health member Chris Tsavatewa said. Those varying standards -- or lack of any -- are one reason people can’t give blood for a year after getting a tattoo, he said.
Of the 13 counties in the district, only Macon-Bibb and Washington counties now have formal regulations, said Donna Cadwell, environmental health county manager. Macon-Bibb County adopted rules about seven years ago. The proposed new standards are similar to those, but include some changes to accommodate changing technology, she said.
“What we’re adopting is basically clarifying what we already have. There is very little that is really new (for Macon-Bibb),” Cadwell said.
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But for other counties in the district, the new standards, which are spelled out in 35 pages, will mean bigger changes.
The health district board on Monday evening endorsed the proposed rules but put off a vote on formal approval until after a series of public meetings, which could produce some tweaks.
Once approved by the health district, the rules would go to each county commission for local adoption. The draft rules have been looked over by Crawford, Monroe and Peach county governments, and were tabled for further review in Jones County, health district staff said.
The regulations have been worked on for years, Cadwell said. The current process began in Houston County, expanding to the health district as a whole.
An education session for local tattoo artists and piercers on the proposed rules is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at the health district office, 171 Emery Highway in Macon. A formal public hearing is set for the same location at 6 p.m. Feb. 16.
Board member Elaine Lucas asked how many studios are doing tattoo or piercing work in Macon-Bibb. Eight are licensed, and seven are now operating, with 16 or 17 individual permit holders, Cadwell told her. All those studios have been notified and have helped write the draft rules, Cadwell said.
“They have been involved since day one,” she said.
The rules propose establishing a four-member committee, with two health professionals, a piercer and a tattoo artist, to provide education.
One change from Macon-Bibb rules would allow “guest artists” to operate at local trade shows, since that’s where much learning takes place, Cadwell said.
But the rules would not allow implants in customers’ flesh, or using a piercing gun to puncture ear cartilage. They would also prohibit others from being in the room while work is being done, she said.
Requirements for hand sinks, sanitary waste disposal, a list of basic supplies, and record-keeping are specified in the proposal.
Those who want to practice locally would have to pass a basic rules test, Cadwell said.
“We’re already working on that,” she said.
Inspections of tattoo and piercing parlors would look for the same basic things as restaurant and hotel inspections in terms of sanitation and procedures, Cadwell said.
The health district covers Bibb, Houston, Baldwin, Crawford, Hancock, Jasper, Jones, Monroe, Peach, Putnam, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson counties.