OSHA and the Massage Therapist: MassageNerd’s Safety tips

This is a guest post by Ryan Hoyme, a.k.a. MassageNerd. Besides being an awesome massage therapist and thought leader, he also offers a vast collection of professional massage therapy stock photos that you should definitely check out. Thanks, Ryan! 


I have been aware of OSHA even before I started massage school.

My employment before massage was working in nursing homes, group homes, chemically dependent centers and mental health facilities. We always had required training in OSHA on a yearly basis.

Here is an excerpt from www.osha.gov:

“Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful workplaces by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Employers must comply with all applicable OSHA standards. Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards.”

Bodily Fluids

Massage therapists typically won’t see bodily fluids, unless we are working in a hospital, or facilities that would have that type of clientele. But you never know, and that is why it’s important to know everything you can about OSHA.

Therapists can get lazy, and not even realize something is on their sheets, so that is why it’s important to be more aware of your surroundings, and take the time to observe your surroundings.

A few times I’ve had clients who have voided on my table. Since I worked in nursing homes before I got into the massage profession, it didn’t even faze me.

TIP: When you take off your sheets from the massage table, get in the habit of lifting up the corners of your fitted sheet and rolling your sheets in a ball.

Disease Awareness

Back when I taught massage therapy, I occasionally brought my students to an AIDS group home.

Some of the students were really scared, and I explained to them about how people can get AIDS (we always went over that in our pathology class, before we even went there).

The one thing I noticed was my students would wash their hands twice as long, for all their future treatments they would give.

It was a great learning experience. They were definitely more aware after this talk.

What made it really sink in: I would always tell them that any of your clients might have a disease, and not even know it yet.


Cleanliness is the main thing we have to be aware of.

One time I forgot to take out the trash, and the next day I had fruit flies in my office. It took me a few days to get rid of them.

Another time we found out that we had a mouse in our office, and luckily we were able to get rid of it in the same day.

Personal Hygiene

You have to stop and think about your own hygiene.

When I had my practice back in the late 90’s, I smoked. I was so self-conscious about it, that I even wore leather gloves, leather jacket and a hat when I smoked at my business…even in the summer I wore all of that.

I never had one cavity during that time, because I would gargle with mouthwash, and brush my teeth several times a day.

Honestly, looking back at it, it was way too much work and I should have quit back then.

Look at yourself in a mirror, and ask yourself this question: “Would I get a massage from myself?”


Always have a first aid kit and cleaning supplies in your practice.

How do you keep your clients and yourself safe, and your practice within OSHA guidlines? If you have any good tips or best practice habits you’ve formed, share with us in the comments!

Visit www.osha.gov for more information.

Comments from original Massamio post:

It is so critical to know OSHA standards in your area. This site gives us a great start and direction to go. I recommend everyone study up on those standards. — Posted @ Monday, May 05, 2014 1:53 PM by Gregory D Horenstein