OSH Answers Fact Sheets

Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >

Search all fact sheets:

Type a word, a phrase, or ask a question

HIV/AIDS Precautions - Emergency Personnel

What should I know when employed as emergency personnel?

Emergency personnel are in contact with infectious diseases in a variety of circumstances. They have contact with individuals for whom no medical information is available.

  • Consider blood and body fluids from all patients as potentially infective.
  • Take proper precautions to prevent exposure to blood and body fluids.

Report immediately suspect fluid exposure, or a needlestick or sharp injury to a designated person because if post-exposure chemoprophylaxis is to be implemented, it should begin preferably within 1 to 2 hours after exposure.

What personal protection should I wear?

Wear gloves:

  • when you have open or healing wounds, or skin infections
  • when in direct contact with blood or body fluids, secretions or excretions and surfaces and objects exposed to them

NOTE: Emergency personnel do not routinely require gowns, masks and protective eye wear. This equipment should, however, be available for certain medical emergencies such as controlling bleeding with spurting blood.

WASH hands as soon as possible:

  • with waterless antiseptic hand cleaner when hand washing facilities are not available. Follow manufacturer's recommendations
  • after direct contact with a potentially infected person
  • after removing gloves
  • if hands become contaminated with blood or body fluids

Be careful in situations such as body searches and removing people from automobile wrecks where the chance for broken glass, needles, or sharp edges is possible.

What precautions should I take when performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation?

  • Have available disposable mouthpieces or other ventilation devices for emergency mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Wrap fingers in gauze, a clean handkerchief or other clean material to remove saliva, blood or other secretions from mouth and lips of victim before beginning mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Remove further secretions as they appear.
  • Clean and rinse surface of devices. Clean with medical grade disinfectant if using reusable equipment.

What precautions should I take when handling contaminated clothing?

  • Remove as much of the contaminant as possible by scraping off dry, crusted matter with a disposable item.
  • Wash off wet contaminant with a rag or disposable paper towel.
  • Launder or dry clean contaminated clothing. No special precautions are needed.

Document last updated on January 13, 2010


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.