One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from exposure is by following the principle of Standard Precautions also referred to as Universal Precautions. Standard Precautions assume that all human blood and all human body fluids are infectious and should be handled with appropriate protective measures.

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Guidelines and Recommendations are available at this CDC site. 

Included in the HAI guidelines are the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), work practices, and engineering controls to ensure safety in all situations where exposure to blood or body fluids is possible.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Always wear PPE (e.g. gloves, eye protection) when there is a potential for exposure to blood or body fluids. This is proven to be the single most effective precaution to avoid exposure.

PPE should be readily accessible. If some PPE that you feel is necessary for your protection is not available to you, contact your supervisor.

Gloves as PPE

Gloves may be made of latex, nitrile, rubber, or other impervious materials. If glove material is thin or flimsy, double gloving may provide additional protection. If you have cuts or sores on your hands, you should cover these with a bandage as additional protection before putting on gloves. Inspect gloves before putting them on to check for tears or punctures and replace them at that point if they are damaged.

Remove gloves carefully, trying not to touch the outside of the gloves with bare skin. The established method for removing gloves without contaminating hands is illustrated here: Glove Removal 

After removal, discard contaminated gloves in the medical waste box. Always wash hands thoroughly as the final step.

A Word about Latex Allergy

Although latex gloves have proven effective in preventing transmission of infectious diseases, for some individuals, repeated exposures to latex may result in allergic reactions. These reactions result from exposure to certain proteins in the latex rubber.

Symptoms may include flushing, skin rashes, hives, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat and wheezing. Rarely and over time, with repeated exposures, symptoms may escalate to anaphylactic shock. However, the response would unlikely be the first indication of a person's adverse reaction to latex.

Minimizing the Risk of Latex

  • Use non-latex gloves for activities involving contact with infectious materials.
  • When using latex gloves, use powder-free gloves with reduced protein content.
  • When wearing latex gloves, do not use oil-based creams or lotions.
  • After removing latex gloves, wash hands with mild soap and dry thoroughly.
  • Frequently clean areas and equipment contaminated with latex-containing dust.

Other PPE that may be needed:


Because bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eyes, it is very important to protect them by using chemical splash goggles if there is a potential for splash or spray to occur in the course of your work.

Face shields

Face shields may also be worn in addition to goggles to provide additional face protection against splashes to the mouth and nose.

Gowns or Lab Coats

Wear gowns or lab coats to protect clothing and to keep blood or OPIM from soaking through to the skin.

Contaminated Clothing

Personal clothing that becomes contaminated with blood should be removed as soon as possible to avoid fluids from seeping through and coming in contact with skin. Contaminated laundry should be handled as little as possible and placed in a red biohazard bag until it is decontaminated, disposed of, or laundered. Machine washing with hot water and detergent is sufficient to clean soiled personal clothing. Bleach can be added as an additional disinfectant measure.

Points to remember:

  • Always wear PPE in potential exposure situations
  • Remove and replace PPE that is torn, punctured, or otherwise no longer acting as a barrier to infectious materials.
  • Remove PPE before leaving the work area.
  • Dispose of PPE in the proper biohazard waste receptacle.

OSHA PPE Guidelines



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