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Hairdressers are exposed daily to a variety of chemicals; insufficient protection and non-compliance are issues of concern in this trade. We examined the relationship between the knowledge hairdressing-students have concerning chemical safety and precautionary handling practices with their intentions and beliefs as regards chemical use, handling precautions, perceptions of associated risk, peer norms, and perceived self-efficacy toward preventing personal exposure.A total of 163 full-time students from two vocational schools were recruited to complete a questionnaire and a 60-min structured interview.Students scoring lower in knowledge regarding chemicals were less likely to report the intention to wait for favorable air conditions prior to their using chemicals in the workplace (odds ratio (OR) = 2.45, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 2.03–2.96). Those scoring higher were more likely to disagree with the statement that exposure to certain hairdressing-related chemicals is not harmful to human health (OR = 0.13, 95% CI = 0.03–0.62), and that such chemical exposure does not cause cancer (OR = 0.13, 95% CI = 0.04–0.40), and were more unlikely to report being too busy to use personal-protective equipment when occupationally using such chemicals (OR = 0.45, 95% CI = 0.21–0.95). Those participants revealing a low knowledge score with regards to chemicals were also shown to exhibit a poor perception of the long-term harm posed by skin exposure to certain work-related chemicals (OR = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.10–4.93). Associations between knowledge of chemicals and preventive measures, however, were not found in this study.Our study's findings support the need to promote primary prevention of potential hazardous chemical exposure by providing a safe occupational environment for hairdressers by means of providing appropriate education and training with regard to safety measures necessary for the safe handling of relevant chemicals. Am. J. Ind. Med. 47:45–53, 2005. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.