WARNING AGAINST UNLICENSED TATTOOISTS Fri 4 May 2012 Dr Kelly Shaw Acting Director of Public Health Tasmanians are urged to only seek tattoos and piercings from licensed operators, after an illegal tattooing operation in Southern Tasmania was shut down this week. The Acting Director of Public Health, Dr Kelly Shaw, said all Tasmanian tattooists and venues must be licensed and must demonstrate that they follow best practice hygiene and infection prevention measures. "Tattooing and body piercing involves penetrating the skin - and when done unsafely or in unclean conditions, may result in an infection or life-long disease such as Hepatitis C," Dr Shaw said. "This can be through re-using needles and ink, unhygienic surroundings or poor handling by the operator that leads to contamination. "Tasmanian tattoo shops are licensed and regulated to ensure that they provide a clean and safe service to their customers. The same cannot be said for backyard operators." Glenorchy City Council Environmental Health Officers closed down the illegal operation earlier this week, confiscating tattooing equipment and issuing fines. The maximum penalty for failing to comply with Tasmania's Public Health Act Guidelines for Tattooing is $6000. "From time to time, we do hear about unlicensed operators in Tasmania who give tattoos to friends and family, and this concerns us," Dr Shaw said. "While our local councils are doing a great job in cracking down on these activities, I urge consumers to exercise common sense. Why would you allow yourself to be pierced or tattooed unless you were absolutely sure it was safe?" If you're considering getting a tattoo; Make sure it's from a licensed operator. If you're unsure if a tattooist is licensed, ask your local council. Ask the tattooist if they're a member of the Professional Tattooing Association of Australia. This organisation promotes the use of hygienic and safe tattooing practices. Ask the tattooist to explain their infection control techniques used at the premises. Look around you and ensure that their work area is clean and tidy. Tattooists should wash their hands thoroughly and put on a fresh pair of gloves. Make sure they open a new individually-wrapped needle and barrel from sterilised packaging. The tattoo gun should have a plastic cover over the cord that connects to the gun and the ink should be placed in individual tiny cups on a clean work station. Most apply a modern antiseptic cream and bandage the site and they should provide you with 'after care' advice.