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Body Art: Frequently Asked Questions

California Safe Body Art Guidelines

Permits and Registration

No, H&SC Section 119304 does not restrict the activities of physicians and surgeons. It is not the intent of the Safe Body Art Act to require sites (e.g., doctor’ offices, surgery centers) where permanent cosmetics are applied under a physician’s or surgeon’s direction to obtain a body art facility permit. It is also not the intent of the Safe Body Art Act to require a practitioner to retain a body art registration if that practitioner only operates under the direction of a physician or surgeon. If a practitioner intends to provide any permanent cosmetic services outside of those directed by a physician or surgeon, then they will need to have a practitioner registration and the site will need a body art facility permit.

Any individual who is going to perform body art on a person must be a registered practitioner, even if no money is exchanged or the body art occurs as part of a training course. The only exception is for a practitioner who only provides procedures at sites under the control and direction of a physician or surgeon.

No, a body art practitioner cannot work from a non-permitted site. It is the intent of the Act to require that registered practitioners operate from permitted Body Art Facilities

Training and Documentation

That is at the discretion of the local jurisdiction. The person with the training certificate would have to provide proof that shows that the course meets all the requirements as noted in California Health and Safety Code (H&SC) Section 119307. If it cannot be provided or be read by staff (in a foreign language), then the individuals should be required to take a California specific BBP course from a Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) approved trainer.

Any person who will be performing body art on a person is required to take and maintain a Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control training certificate. This includes students working in a classroom setting, if they are working on a live person. This would also include individuals working in the decontamination and sterilization room, as they may be exposed to instruments with human fluids or tissue on it.

No, an IPCP is not the same as an ECP. The Infection Prevention and Control Plan, as listed in H&SC Section 119313, requires a body art facility to spell out processes and standard operating procedures that allow the facility to comply with the Safe Body Art Act such as cleaning and sterilizing, set-up and tear down of procedure areas and ways to keep instruments and procedure areas from being contaminated. An Exposure Control Plan, which is required by OSHA, requires, among other things, an operator to list all positions that may have exposure, how they will be trained to minimize exposure, who is responsible for the site and how to report and handle an incident of exposure to Blood or other potentially infectious materials.

The intent of the section is to provide a route to trace back equipment if any complaints or problems implicate the pre-packaged, pre-sterilized instruments. A facility should always maintain records of purchases for these goods and lot numbers or other identifiers that single out a particular package or shipment. A facility can keep a separate master log documenting each piece of equipment used, the client’s name and the date of use. It would also be acceptable to have an area on the client’s consent form that allows the practitioner to list each pre-packaged, pre-sterilized instrument used during a procedure, which would include a box or lot number or other reference to identify the material source.

If the pre-sterilized instruments are not individually labeled to show sterility or have any marking that would indicate when the sterility is no longer valid, it is the operator’s responsibility to either keep the instruments in a box that has the details of the sterility and use by date or to provide some type of documentation that shows the items are sterile. If the box does not have that information or the documentation does not show that information, then the operator should change suppliers to one that provides that information.

A Body Art Facility is not technically a medical facility so it is not clear whether HIPAA applies, but the two year timeframe is too restrictive for a variety of reasons and it is recommended that this provision not be applied as part of the inspection. This provision is on a list of items to be removed from the code in the next legislative session.

Cleaning and Sterilizing

Proper usage of sterilizers is addressed in H&SC Section 119315 (b) which states the sterilizer shall be loaded, operated, decontaminated and maintained according to manufacturer’s directions. Although no such language exists to address mechanical cleaning systems, such as ultrasonic cleaners, it is the intent of the Safe Body Art Act that they are also operated and maintained according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

The Class 5 integrators requirement derives from ANSI/AAMI standards for autoclave testing. The Safe Body Art Act states the Class V Integrator is the minimum standard. Other testing methods can be proposed but they must at least meet the standards set for the Class V integrators.

Yes, H&SC Section 119315 (b) (1) requires all sterilization equipment used be manufactured for sterilization of medical equipment. H&SC Section 119309 (e) requires all instruments to be steam sterilized. This section does not allow for the use of chemical sterilizers. Statim machines, that use steam and a cartridge system but not peel packs, may be used to sterilize instruments or jewelry for immediate use as long as a Class V integrator or better is used with each sterilization run.


No, pursuant to the California Medical Board, any cutting of skin/tissue with scalpels or other medical devices should be referred to them as a complaint. The complaint form is available on their website and it should be mailed to the following address:
Medical Board of California
Central Complaint Unit

2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95815

Sharps waste includes any disposable instruments or disposable parts of an instrument that has acute rigid corners, edges, or protuberances capable of cutting or piercing. (e.g., tattoo needles, razors used to prepare skin)

No, H&SC Section 119314 (e) (3) (A) clearly states that sharps waste must be removed from a site by a disposal company or through an approved mail-back system.

No. Service Animals as defined by ADA should be allowed.

There is no clear connection with a practitioner and a procedure in the Safe Body Art Act but it would be advisable to ask the Body Art Facility to put the practitioner name on the client consent form.

No clear path is provided in the Safe Body Art Act. The following guidance is based on consultation with Body Art Industry representatives who have worked on the Safe Body Art Act. A pregnant individual should postpone the procedure until after they are no longer pregnant. If a client gives a positive response to any of the conditions in Section 119303 (b) (2), (b) (3) or (b) (4), then that individual should be asked to provide a doctor’s note outlining that they are fit or that it is safe to provide them with the procedure. These responses are in no way required by the practitioner but the intent of the consent questions was to enlighten the practitioner so they could make an informed decision before potentially providing a risky procedure, both for them and the client.

No, there is no grandfathering language in the Act but it was not the intention to require that all facilities in business prior to July 1, 2012 immediately retrofit their facilities to meet the Act’s provision if they can show that they can operate in substantial conformance with the Act.

Temporary Events

Sections 119317 (g) (1) and (2) are very clear in the direction for hand washing set-up. If there is only one demonstration booth at a temporary body art event, then the hand washing equipment (containerized liquid soap, single use paper towels, a five-gallon or larger container of potable water accessible via spigot, and a wastewater collection and holding tank of corresponding size) must be in the booth. If there are two or more demonstration booth at a temporary body art event, then practitioner hand wash areas shall be provided throughout the event located within a booth with partitions at least three feet in height separating the hand wash area from the public. The hand was area shall be equipped with a commercial, self-contained hand wash station that consists of containerized liquid soap, single use paper towels, a storage capacity of five gallons or more of potable water, and a trash receptacle. The sponsor shall provide one hand wash area for every two demonstration booths at the event.

Eyewash stations are no longer required at temporary events.