Per OSHA guidelines, universal precautions are an approach to infection control to treat all human blood and certain human body fluids as if they were known to be infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens, (Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030(b) definitions).
Bloodborne Pathogen Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(1) requires:
- Employees to observe Universal Precautions to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
- Under circumstances in which differentiation between body fluid types is difficult or impossible, all body fluids shall be considered potentially infectious materials.
- Treat all blood and other potentially infectious materials with appropriate precautions such as:
- Use gloves, masks, and gowns if blood or OPIM exposure is anticipated.
- Use engineering and work practice controls to limit exposure.
The CDC recommends Standard Precautions for the care of all patients, regardless of their diagnosis or presumed infection status. Standard Precautions apply to 1) blood; 2) all body fluids, secretions, and excretions, except sweat, regardless of whether or not they contain visible blood; 3) non-intact skin; and 4) mucous membranes. Standard precautions are designed to reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms from both recognized and unrecognized sources of infection in hospitals.
Standard precautions includes the use of: hand washing, appropriate PPE (e.g., gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection, etc.) whenever touching or exposure to patients' body fluids is anticipated.
CDC guidance for funeral directors handling decedents indicates that funeral professionals should follow Standard Precautions, including additional personal protective equipment (PPE) if splashing of fluids is expected, during both transfers and embalming. It is always better to don (put on) more PPE and be safe than sorry. See: Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Protective Equipment (CDC).
All PPE should be donned (put on) and doffed (taken off) and disposed of properly.