The Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme (THRS)

What is the THRS?

THRS stands for Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme and was devised in Wales.

Currently it’s a voluntary scheme for tattoo studios to adopt with the aim of improving tattooing standards and hygiene. It’s supported by a number of studios and councils, the TPIU (Tattoo Piercing Industry Union) and the CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health).

Each participating studio is inspected and receieves a certificate with a rating of 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest. The certificate is then displayed in your studio for clients to see, it’s a little like food hygiene ratings you see at takeaways and restaurants. The rating is renewed annually.

An Example THRS Certificate with Star/Level Ratings

We’ve scoured the web for information on the scheme and talked to our local council Health and Safety team about it, so everything that follows is a culmination of what we found out and if someone can shed more light on it then please get in touch, the more information the better.
If your studio participates please let us know your thoughts in the comments or send us a mail.

The way it seems to be structured is by the levels 1 to 4. To achieve each rating level you/your studio needs to meet certain criteria. I’m going to point out now that the THRS is studio specific. The final decision to participate is the studio owners, not the tattooers that work at the studio. Still, you wouldn’t want to work at a studio with a bum rating right? So it’s in the interest of the tattooers that the studio gets the top level rating if they adopt the scheme.

Although its not stated it seems the scheme works alongside the Tattooing and body piercing guidance : toolkit. When we had questions on the scheme our council referred to the tookit for reference alot of the time. If you’re not aware of the toolkit or haven’t read it, it might be worth your while, I think it shows where the industry is going or at least where legislation on the industry is heading, especially in terms of what paperwork is required from studios/tattooers.

Tattoo Toolkit
An Excerpt from the Tattoo Toolkit

One thing we came across while researching the THRS was that there were slight discrepancies between what was acceptable in different councils adopting the scheme. There were differences in the cost, aesthetics of the rating certificate and interpretation of professional bodies to name a few. Another thing is as of writing this, only studios in England and Wales are participating, I have no idea if something similar is going on in Scotland and Northern Ireland. (if you know then hit us up with some information please)

I think we can all see the need for some sort of standard in the tattoo industry.
Our trade must be one of the few that doesn’t require any formal qualifications or experience to work in it. You can legally obtain a tattoo registration certificate to practice tattooing in the UK without any practical knowledge of it, if you have the registration certificate you can work in a registered studio, no prior knowledge of disinfectants, blood borne pathogens, needles, machines or safe and hygienic practice. If you can shop online then you can buy the equipment, regardless of whether you’re registered or not. There’s clearly a need for some sort of legislation, the THRS may be a start but it may be a long way off where it needs to be.

I think it’s only a matter of time before something like this scheme becomes mandatory so it’s in our interest to help it develop now, even if it isn’t this particular scheme, sooner or later there will be some kind of official legislation enforcing such a scheme.

I say this way too much (I’m even bored of hearing it) but the tattooing community need to have a say in the legislation and we can only do that with communication, an open diaglogue online or otherwise. I have little faith in the TPIU, they don’t seem to have done much up to now to engage the industry and they definitely don’t seem progressive enough for this trade.

Even if you’re not considering joining the scheme you should find out if your council participate in the scheme and read the relevant documentation.
As a business owner you should know how it could potentially affect your business and as a tattooer you should do the same because certain ratings require the tattooers in the studio to meet certain criteria too. Winter is coming… (aha, I don’t even watch GOT, Vikings all the way!)

We’d like to start an open discussion on the subject, we’d like to hear

  • general thoughts on the scheme
  • what you like about it?
  • what you don’t like about it?
  • what do you think it lacks?
  • have you seen better schemes?
  • do you understand all the requirements and their consequences?

You can email us or write a comment below. We hope to open a forum in the future for this.

For more information on this you can have a look on our sites menu and see what we thought of the criteria of each rating scheme and our comments on it.

Reference :

Rules of the Scheme

Rating levels of the scheme

THRS (yes that tribal gem really is the certificate)

Tattooing and body piercing guidance: Toolkit page

Pdf document

Development of the THRS