'Infection risk' at Blackpool Body Piercing Clinic

Up to 200 customers of a body piercing shop which had its electricity disconnected in August could be at risk of infection, council officials say.

Blackpool Council urged anyone who had used the Blackpool Body Piercing Clinic in Springfield Road in the past two months to get a health check.

It said electricity was needed to power an autoclave device to sterilise piercing tools and jewellery.

The clinic's owner James Woods said: "I haven't done anything wrong."

The British Body Piercing Association (BBPA) said it was possible for piercers to work without an autoclave and avoid the need for electricity.

'Proactive approach'

The authority said it believed the number of customers pierced was fewer than 200 but there was no way of knowing the exact total until people came forward.

Blackpool Council said it issued a notice to owner Mr Woods under the Health And Safety At Work Act ordering him to stop work until an electricity supply was reconnected.

It said that was because the electricity was needed to power an autoclave, which sterilises the piercing tools and jewellery to kill all bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores.

The owner was also ordered to "thoroughly clean" the piercing rooms and arrange for a re-inspection of the premises prior to re-opening.

'Witch hunt'

Mr Woods said he had been piercing for 28 years and had been taking instruments home to autoclave "for a couple of weeks" while the electricity was off.

He said: "It's a witch hunt. This could completely ruin me because no-one has given me chance to say my part. It's not right."

However, the council said it believed the owner continued to carry out piercings.

Dr Arif Rajpura, Blackpool Council's director of public health, said: "As a result of these concerns we believe there may be a risk of infection to those people who have been pierced since the disconnection on 13 August.

"I would stress this is a precautionary measure. However, it is important that people heed this advice and take a proactive approach to looking after their health."

He urged anyone affected to contact Public Health England which will then refer them to their doctor.

The council said it was now pursuing enforcement action against the owner.

Keith Fakenbridge, the founder of the BBPA, refused to comment on this case but said providing there was enough light, piercers could use single-use disposable needles, disposable clamps and pre-sterilised jewellery.

He said gas could be used to heat water.

Mr Fakenbridge added: "Of course the piercing area would still need to be kept sterile using antibacterial sprays, bleach, disposing of tissues, clamps and gloves into a biohazard waste bin and the needle placed into a sharps box but you do not need electricity for that."

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