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HIV/AIDS Precautions - Laboratories

What should I know when employed in a laboratory?

Consider blood and body fluids from all patients as infective. Refer to Routine Practices for preventing transmission of bloodborne infectious diseases.

Report immediately suspect fluid exposure, or a needlestick or sharp injury to a designated person or health care professional.   

Please also see the OSH Answers document HIV/AIDS in the Workplace for more information.

What personal protection should I wear?

Wear gloves:

  • when processing blood or body fluid specimens
  • when handling contaminated articles
  • during cleaning and decontamination procedures

Change gloves after processing specimen.

Wear gowns while working with potentially infectious material.

Wear masks and protective eye wear:

  • if mucous membrane contact is likely
  • if there is potential for splashing

Remove protective clothing before leaving laboratory.

Wash hands:

  • after processing specimens
  • after completing laboratory activities
  • after removing protective clothing
  • after a glove tear or suspected glove leak
  • before leaving laboratory

Do not pipette by mouth.

What precautions should I follow when working with needles and sharps?

  • Use needles only when there is no alternative. Consider needles and sharp instruments as being infected.
  • Use puncture-resistant containers. Label containers – for example "CAUTION: WASTE SHARPS".
  • Clean and sterilize reusable syringes before reusing.
  • Do not recap, bend, break or remove needles by hand from disposable syringes or otherwise handle after use.

When should I decontaminate laboratory materials and surfaces?

Laboratory surfaces should be decontaminated:

  • After a spill of blood or body fluid. Disinfect with a medical grade disinfectant.
  • Before reprocessing contaminated material used in lab tests.
  • When work activities have been completed.

How should I dispose and transport contaminated laboratory test material?

  • Place contaminated laboratory test material in bags and dispose according to policy for infectious waste.
  • Put specimen into a sturdy container with secure lid to prevent leaking.
  • Avoid contaminating outside of container and accompanying laboratory form.
  • Place container in a clear, impervious plastic bag.

Document last updated on March 1, 2017

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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.