Bloodborne Pathogens

Universal or Standard Precautions

Many 4-H youth development programs involve close contact between people such as camps, fairs, and sports events. Contact with animals and the possibility of injury increases the need for safe practices. Sometimes, people get sick or injured. We need to be concerned about infections that are carried in body fluids.


Proper handwashing involves scrubbing with soap and water for at least 30 seconds and drying with clean towels. We need to be sure that both adults and youth are doing this before handling food and after contact with any body fluids. If there is not a source of water, use single use disposable hand wipes.

Recommendations for the Handling of Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens are disease and infection causing microorganisms carried by blood and other potentially infectious materials containing visible blood. Two serious bloodborne pathogens are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HIV causes AIDS, which attacks the body’s immune system so it can’t fight disease. HBV, even more common, infects the liver and can lead to serious – even fatal - illnesses such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, or chronic liver disease.

There’s only a small risk from bloodborne pathogens, but you do not want to take chances as people can carry bloodborne viruses and have no symptoms or even know they are infected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created the Bloodborne Pathogens Standards, which are designed to protect people who might be exposed to bloodborne diseases.

The standards state that people should treat all blood and potentially infectious body fluids with visible blood as if they are infectious. Bloodborne pathogens are not transmitted by mucous, sweat, tears, urine, feces, nasal secretions, or vomit unless there is visible blood.

Steps to Handling Blood and other Fluids

Use protective barriers to prevent exposure to blood and body fluids containing visible blood. The type of PPE (personal protective equipment) or protective barriers should be appropriate for the procedure being performed and the type of exposure anticipated. Wear protective clothing – latex gloves should be worn when handling any body fluids such as blood, salvia, or vomit. Keep a first aid kit handy that contains several pairs of clean gloves. You may also want to use a facemask or goggles as there is the chance for splattered fluids when cleaning.

To clean up spills of body fluids containing blood, you may want to use some type of absorbent to “set the fluids” and a disposable scoop to help pick up the mess. Use a sealable plastic bag with paper towels or an “airplane vomit bag” and then double-bag the trash bags to dispose of the blood and other body fluids. Place towels used to clean the area in the double bag. Double bag the bag of blood, fluids, and paper towels used to clean up the mess.

Remove the personal protective equipment (PPE - gloves, face masks) and place in the bag. Be careful not to touch the outside of the gloves with your hands. Materials (clothes, towels, rags) that have body fluids on them should be double bagged. Double bag and dispose of the bags directly into a dumpster. If you have blood-stained clothing that you are sending home with the participant, be sure to double bag these items as well.

Disinfection should be done with a bleach and water solution. Have water with a 10% bleach solution available to clean up the fluids and then wash the entire area. The bleach solution needs to be made fresh weekly. You may want to keep straight bleach in your kit and make a diluted solution as you need it. Allow area to dry. You may also want to use germicidal surface wipes on the surfaces.

Immediately and thoroughly wash hands and other skin surfaces that are contaminated with blood and other body fluids containing visible blood. Wash hands with hot soapy water for at least 30 seconds. Use single use disposable wipes if water is not available. Keep a supply of these in your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) materials.

Have a “sharps container” for needles, razor blades, etc. for those that use these for medical purposes. Commercial containers are available for purchase. The container should be marked as “Do Not Recycle”. Container should be labeled for “sharps” and not used for other waste. The container should be puncture resistant, leak proof, closable, and upright. Tape the slit closed and dispose of the whole container when it gets full. Broken glass can also be placed in the sharps container.

Use of the BBP Kit

If you do use the BBP (Blood Borne Pathogens) kit, you should also complete an incident/accident form. A sample of the form is included in the BBP (Blood Borne Pathogens) kit.

For additional information, ask to review the publication Bloodborne Pathogens, Coastal Training Technologies Corp, 2002 that is available at your local Extension office.