Operating a skin penetration establishment

What is a skin penetration procedure? 

A skin penetration procedure is a procedure in which:

  • the skin is cut, punctured, torn or shaved
  • a mucous membrane is cut, punctured or torn.

Read more about skin penetration procedures and how to comply with legislation.

What should I do before starting a skin penetration establishment?

Before opening a skin penetration establishment you will need approval from the local government in the area where you intend to operate your establishment.

Local government environmental health officers will require details of the establishment, including the business name and address and types of procedures to be performed.

Before you open your establishment, you should provide the local government with a copy of the layout, including details about the location of fixtures, such as hand basins and sinks, and materials used for shelving and flooring to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice for Skin Penetration Procedures (PDF 324KB).

It is advisable to that you work with your local government to ensure you comply with the Code.

Design requirements for a skin penetration establishment

There are specific requirements for the layout of a skin penetration establishment which are outlined in section 7 of the Code.

Skin penetration procedures area

The skin penetration procedures area is the area where the skin penetration procedure will take place. For example, the area where a client will be pierced, tattooed, or waxed.

Design requirements:

  • Floors, floor coverings, walls, ceilings, shelves, fittings and other furniture in this area must be made from materials suitable for the procedures undertaken here. These must be kept clean and in good repair.
  • All surfaces that come into direct contact with client’s skin is smooth, impervious and in good repair. For example, client chairs or beds must be made of a material that can be easily cleaned after each use.
  • A hand basin with a hot and cold water supply, soap and paper towels  provided in the immediate area where the skin penetration procedures are undertaken. The hand basin should be easily accessible to allow the person performing the procedure to wash their hands thoroughly before and after.

It is recommended that liquid soap from a pump dispenser be used for hand washing.

  • For new premises or those undergoing refurbishment it is mandatory to install a hands-free basin. The basin must be supplied with hot and cold water supply through a single outlet. A hands-free basin is one which can be operated without use of hands. The Code advises that hands-free basins should be knee- or elbow-operated.

Work space and preparation area

The work space is where appliances are stored, for example an autoclave. The preparation area is where appliances are prepared before use.

Design requirements:

  • The work space and preparation areas must be separated from the client treatment area.
  • This area must have at least 2 designated sinks; one for hand washing and another for cleaning and decontaminating equipment.
  • All sinks must be made of suitable materials, such as stainless steel.
  • All work surfaces should be smooth and impervious, and all floors must be smooth, impervious and non-slip.
  • There should be sufficient bench space to accommodate equipment.

Example layout

An example of the layout of a skin penetration establishment, showing location of hand basins, benches and 3 separated workspaces.

An example of a skin penetration establishment.


WorkSafe (external site) deals with issues relating to occupational safety and  health in the workplace including:

  • Code of Practice on the Management of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis at Workplaces
  • material safety data sheets
  • chemicals at work
  • personal protective equipment.

More information

Contact the relevant local government Environmental Health Services (external site) for further advice about starting a business, making a complaint about a business operating in a local district or for general health advice about this topic.

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Public Health