In a victory for South Carolina nail technicians who use electric files, the state board rescinded its prohibition of electric drills following a public hearing.

According to Sharlee Wyder, a member of the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology, the Board had been receiving four to five complaints a day from clients who had received injuries in salons from nail drills. Though the Board does not have the power to pass laws (only the legislature does), it can pass rules if salons violate regulations, especially if there are an “alarming number” of complaints.

In November, 1994, the Board sent a letter to all licensed salons in the state indicating that drill use was prohibited as of December 2, 1994.

The letter brought a backlash from salon technicians throughout the state. Fifteen technicians banded together and retained the services of a lawyer. They attended December’s public meeting of the board prepared to dispute the prohibition.

Before any of the angered technicians could speak, however, one Board member rose and asked that the proportion be withdrawn. Apparently, the initial motion for the prohibition was not properly done according to procedure Rather than a proper motion, it was just a “discussion” of the board members.

Says nail technician Debbie Jeffcoat, who attended the meeting, “We won. We can now use drills.”

December’s meeting included, however, proposals for mandatory continuing education in the use of electric drills, a prohibition on the use of sanding mandrels, and the prohibition of drills that are not marketed specifically for nail salons. Explains Jeffcoat, “Drills from a hardware store are too fast and do too much damage. Sanding spurs can’t be sanitized and they do a lot more damage than drill bits. And we never learn in school how to properly use a drill.”

Nail technicians in South Carolina are required to receive three hours of sanitation and sterilization education for their license renewal. The technicians at the meeting suggested adding on the drill education to the existing requirement.

Phyllis Mitchum, an instructor at the Charleston Cosmetology Institute, says, “There has been a lot of damage to consumers because of drill misuse. The Board has been getting certified letters, and doctors are real busy around here, We need to do something. Nail techs need to have an open mind about this.”

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