Guidelines for working with human blood

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When handling fresh, human blood, there is a risk that the blood may be infectious. HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are spread through blood. It is therefore important to establish good working procedures for handling blood in order to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible.

General safety precautions


Those who work with human blood must be vaccinated against hepatitis B, contact UIB Healthservices.

Protective equipment

Double sets of gloves, face masks, protective goggles and lab coats must be used in order to protect against infection from blood.

Work on benches

Laboratory benches where work is carried out must be covered with bench paper and a plastic underlay to prevent spills. When the work is completed, benches must be cleaned with 96% ethanol.

Procedure in the event of an accident

If blood is spilled on your lab coat, it must be taken off, placed in a plastic sack and marked “blood spill” before sending it in the laundry.

If blood is spilled on the bench, it must be disinfected immediately using 10% chloramine and then cleaned with 96% ethanol. Instruments which have been in contact with blood must be decontaminated at 95C for 5-10 minutes. Large instruments, or instruments which for other reasons cannot be decontaminated using heat, must be disinfected in the same way as the benches.

If you prick or cut yourself on a contaminated instrument, or if blood comes into contact with a fresh skin wound, your eyes or mouth, you must take the following action (First aid measures):

  • In the event of a prick/cut with spontaneous bleeding: Allow the wound to bleed for a few minutes, or carefully pinch the surrounding area of the wound in order to make it bleed a little. Wash with soap and water for 10 minutes and disinfect the area with a wound disinfectant.
  • In the event of a prick/cut without spontaneous bleeding: Do not pinch the area surrounding the wound. Do not attempt to provoke bleeding. Wash as described under item 1 above and apply a plaster.
  • If blood spurts into your eyes, mouth or nose, rinse thoroughly with water for at least 10 minutes.
  • If you spill blood on a wound: Rinse thoroughly with water. Wash with wound disinfectant.

Any measures in addition to the first aid measures must be assessed on an individual basis in consultation with a doctor within 48 hours at the latest.

For all accidents an electronic accident report form MUST be filled in by the injured person, in collaboration with the person responsible for the laboratory.


All disposable equipment which is used for working with blood must be handled as problem waste after use.

Liquid blood waste must be collected in a plastic bottle with a cap. The bottle must be filled with 10% chloramine and left to stand until the following day. It is important that the bottle is left open during this period in order to prevent gas from accumulating inside it. The blood is then handled as problematic waste.

For more information about waste handling see Waste Management.