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Tattooists at a random sample of registered tattooing premises were surveyed for self-reported compliance with infection-control practices specified in the Victorian Standards of practice for tattooing, and some were observed while tattooing. Of 35 respondents, 94 per cent reported that they believed their practice fully met the standards, yet 19 per cent of tattooists did not have a copy of the standards at their premises. Most believed the standards could be improved. There was considerable discrepancy between reported practice and that observed. Few tattooists understood or implemented universal precautions, and while most wore gloves, there was low level of use of eye and clothing protection. Tattooists touched many surfaces that had not been cleaned or disinfected between clients. Ultrasonic cleaners were generally operated without lids. Because of this, they were a danger both to operators and their clients. At no premises was equipment used that had been both cleaned according to the standards and sterilised in an autoclave that had passed a sterilisation test. The situation in Victoria is similar to that identified in other states. There is an urgent need for training of tattooists and the environmental health officers who supervise them.