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Environmental Health and Safety
The University of Mississippi

Universal Precautions

Barrier protection should be used at all times to prevent skin and mucous membrane contamination with blood, body fluids containing visible blood, or other body fluids (cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and amniotic fluids, semen and vaginal secretions).

  • Barrier protection should be used with ALL tissues.
  • The type of barrier protection used should be appropriate for the type of procedures being performed and the type of exposure anticipated. Examples of barrier protection include disposable lab coats, gloves, and eye and face protection.
  • Gloves are to be worn when there is potential for hand or skin contact with blood, other potentially infectious material, or items and surfaces contaminated with these materials.
  • Wear face protection (face shield) during procedures that are likely to generate droplets of blood or body fluid to prevent exposure to mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Wear protective body clothing (disposable laboratory coats (Tyvek)) when there is a potential for splashing of blood or body fluids.
  • Wash hands or other skin surfaces thoroughly and immediately if contaminated with blood, body fluids containing visible blood, or other body fluids to which universal precautions apply.
  • Wash hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • Avoid accidental injuries that can be caused by needles, scalpel blades, laboratory instruments, etc. when performing procedures, cleaning instruments, handling sharp instruments, and disposing of used needles, pipettes, etc.
  • Used needles, disposable syringes, scalpel blades, and other sharp items are to be places in puncture resistant containers marked with a biohazard symbol for disposal.
  • All specimens of blood and body fluids should be put in a well-constructed container with a secure lid to prevent leaking during transport.
  • For routine procedures, such as histologic and pathologic studies or microbiologic culturing, a biological safety cabinet is not necessary. However, biological safety cabinets should be used whenever procedures are conducted that have a high potential for generating droplets. These include activities such as blending, sonicating, and vigorous mixing.
  • Mechanical pipetting devices must be used for manipulating all liquids in the laboratory.
  • Laboratory work surfaces must be decontaminated with an appropriate chemical germicide after a spill of blood or other body fluids and when work activities are completed.
  • Contaminated materials used in the laboratory should be decontaminated before reprocessing or be placed in bags or other containers and disposed of according to Health & Safety procedures.
  • Equipment that has been contaminated with blood or other body fluids must be decontaminated and cleaned before being repaired in the laboratory or transported to the manufacturer.