Universal Precautions

In 1991 Senate Bill 198 was passed into law. This bill made it mandatory that every employer in California have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program to inform employees of hazards in the workplace, and employers are to provide ongoing training in a variety of areas. Two areas of training include Universal Precautions and Bloodborne Pathogens. The information below discusses Universal Precautions and serves as a great guideline for precautions in the workplace.

Universal Precautions

Universal precautions, as defined by CDC, are a set of precautions designed to prevent transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and other bloodborne pathogens when providing first aid or health care. Under universal precautions, blood and certain body fluids of all patients are considered potentially infectious for HIV, HBV, and other bloodborne pathogens.

Universal precautions took the place of and eliminated the need for the isolation category “Blood and Body Fluid Precautions” in the 1983 CDC Guidelines for Isolation Precautions in Hospitals. However, implementing universal precautions does not eliminate the need for other isolation precautions, such as droplet precautions for influenza, airborne isolation for pulmonary tuberculosis, or contact isolation for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Guidelines for Universal Precautions

  1. Gloves will be worn when touching blood, body fluids, body substances, and mucous membranes.
  2. Gloves will be worn when there are cuts, breaks, or openings in the skin.
  3. Gloves will be worn when there is possible contact with urine, feces, vomits, dressing wound drainage, soiled linen, or soiled clothing.
  4. Masks, goggles, or face shields are worn when splattering or splashing of blood or body fluids is possible (this protect your eyes and mucous membranes of your mouth). Gowns or aprons are worn when splashing, splattering, smearing, or soiling from blood or body fluids is a risk.
  5. Avoid nicks or cuts when shaving residents.
  6. Handle razor blades and other sharp objects carefully to avoid injury to the resident or yourself.
  7. Use resuscitation devices when mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is required.
  8. Avoid resident contact when you have open skin wounds or lesions. Discuss the situation with your supervisor.
  9. Hands and other body parts must be washed immediately if contaminated with blood or body fluids.
  10. Hands must be washed immediately after removing gloves.
  11. Hands must be washed after contact with the resident.

Providers are reminded that they are required by OSHA to provide training to their staff on Universal Precautions and bloodborne pathogens. Providers are also reminded that they are required to provide staff with the necessary supplies (gloves, sharps containers, etc.) to follow Universal Precautions.





  • Bloodborne Pathogens: HIV, Hepatitis, & Standard Precautions (training video)
  • Infection Control (training video)
  • Cal OSHA compliance kit (coming soon)

12 Responses to “Universal Precautions”

  1. Hi,
    I was wondering if there were any free online courses to get an online certification for universal precautions. Thanks!

  2. Is there a free course online to get an certification for universal precautions?

  3. All residential and patient care tasks require Universal / Standard Precautions (gloves, hand washing, etc.). Universal Precautions are incorporated in the ADL Skill Tasks & Review section, in the AFH Master Forms Program. The ADL Skill Tasks & Reviews can be used for people caring for their relatives, Providers for employees, group homes, private care, assisted living facilities, etc.

  4. I wanted to know if there were any free online courses to get an online certification for universal precautions?

  5. I wanted to know if there were any free online courses to get an online certification for universal precautions?

  6. I am a training coordinator for a mental health (non-profit) organization and want to know if there are dvd’s on universal precautions, fire saftey and suicide prevention. A website or phone number would be helpful. I need updated material to train staff.

  7. I wanted to know if there were any free online courses to get an online certification for universal precautions?

  8. Is there any information directed to home health aids?

  9. Hello Denise,
    Our content is designed for the assisted living environment but can assure you many of the programs are general enough that they can cross over to other healthcare fields.

  10. i was wondering about taking a universal precautions class online and i was wanting some info about it

  11. Common Infectious Conditions (SP006)
    Approved by: National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) and Oregon DHS.
    CEUs: 2 hours
    Price: $20

    Course Description: This course will provide an overview of four common infectious conditions found in residential care and assisted living settings. The four conditions discussed are: methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), norovirus, and clostridium difficile. For each condition, the pathophysiology, the infectious process, modes of transmission, treatment, and prevention are discussed. Proper staff education, standard precautions, and isolation precautions are discussed as well.

  12. I am looking for Universal Precautions training on a CD that would be appropriate for staff training for in home settings for developmental disabled persons.

    Please let me know what you would have available and the cost involved, etc.

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