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Work practice controls
  • Work practice controls reduce the possibility of exposure by changing the way tasks are performed.
  • These include practices for dealing with contaminated material such as sharps, specimens, and laundry; handwashing and PPE; and eating and drinking restrictions.

Work practice controls reduce the possibility of exposure by changing the way tasks are performed. These include appropriate practices for handling and disposing of contaminated sharps, handling specimens, handling laundry, and cleaning contaminated surfaces and items.

Examples include:

  • Restricting eating, drinking, smoking, and similar activities in areas where exposure is likely;
  • Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Washing hands when contaminated and after removing gloves;
  • Checking equipment for contamination and decontaminating it;
  • Avoiding using the mouth to pipette or suction blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM); and
  • Immediately disposing of sharps in a sharps container.

All procedures involving blood or OPIM must be performed in such a manner as to minimize spattering, generating droplets, splashing, and spraying.

Disposal receptacles

Bags or receptacles containing regulated waste must be labeled or color-coded according to the requirements of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Regulated waste is defined at 1910.1030(b).


In work areas where there is a reasonable likelihood of occupational exposure, safe work practices include restricting eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or lip balm, and the handling of contact lenses. Food and drink should not be stored in refrigerators or other locations where blood or OPIM are kept.

Contaminated equipment

Equipment, other than PPE, that during the course of operations could become contaminated with blood or OPIM must be checked routinely. It must be decontaminated prior to servicing or shipping, unless the employer can demonstrate that decontamination of the equipment or portions of it is not feasible.

Contaminated needles and sharps

The following are work practice controls to reduce the possibility of cuts or skin punctures involving contaminated sharps:

  • Contaminated needles must not be cut or broken.
  • Contaminated needles must not be bent, removed, or recapped unless it can be demonstrated that no alternative is feasible or that such action is required by a specific medical procedure.
  • Any recapping or removing of contaminated needles must be done using a mechanical device or one-handed technique.
  • Employees should pick up blood- or OPIM-contaminated broken glass, metal shavings, or other sharp items using tongs or a plastic scoop — never by hand.
  • Blood tube holders with needles attached must be immediately discarded into a sharps container after the device’s safety feature is activated.
  • Contaminated used blades must not be bent or broken.
  • Contaminated reusable sharps must immediately (or as soon as possible after use) be placed in puncture-resistant, leak-proof containers, labeled as a biohazard, or color-coded red until properly reprocessed.

Research labs and production facilities

Employers will want to note that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) research labs and production facilities may have more stringent work practice control requirements under 1910.1030(e).