Bid to bring tattoo industry under control

Last updated 12:42 09/07/2014
L-O-V-E: Blenheim tattoo artist Willy Wills is concerned that more people will end up with tattoos like this one if tattooists are not following proper health and safety procedures.

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An online petition is the next step for a Blenheim tattoo artist in his fight for the tattoo industry to be regulated.

Black Rose Tattoo Emporium and Body Piercing owner Willy Wills, with the support of Marlborough District Council councillors Laressa Shenfield and Jamie Arbuckle, will start an online petition to push for national regulations of the industry.

The support comes after Wills submitted a proposal to the council's draft Annual Plan last month, which included a bylaw he had written himself.

Wills wanted to see age restrictions and rules in the tattoo industry to improve health and safety. His biggest issue was with tattooists working from home in unsterile conditions, he said.

"We need government regulations so we can stop this.

"If they work from home they will have to be regulated and the tattoo area will have to be vetted so the area they are working in is up to scratch."

Some tattooists in the region were reusing needles on different clients as well as using the coil out of a pen or a guitar string if they don't have a needle, Wills said.

The tattoo industry needed to be controlled properly, he said.

"Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against the people that tattoo from home as long as the area they are working in is sterile and they are using proper tattoo inks.

"You are not going to stop at home tattoos with the guys that are making their own machines though ... the bylaws are for the ones that are doing it properly."

Shenfield said she was surprised to hear the tattoo and piercing industry had no regulations.

"A hairdresser has an annual health and safety check. I think most people would expect similar regulations around the tattoo and piercing industries, especially with blood-born diseases."

Shenfield said the Environmental Protection Authority had put out related guidelines: "A guideline's a guideline – it doesn't have any teeth," Shenfield said.

Council environmental health officer Gina Ferguson said in a statement to the Express that there was "no evidence of need (either by way of complaints or issues reported by Public Health) to indication that council should formulate a bylaw".

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- The Marlborough Express

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