Blood/Body Fluids

Human blood and body fluids potentially contain blood borne viruses (BBVs), and other agents. 

The main BBVs of concern include the Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Viruses which all cause a disease of the liver and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which affects the immune system of the body.

The University Blood and Body Fluids Procedure outlines the process involved in assessing the risk of exposure and the action to take in the event of accidental contamination.

For more specialised work involving the handling and genetic modification of blood borne viruses there may be additional requirements and further information on risk assessment can be found in Safe Working and the Prevention of Infection in Clinical Laboratories and Similar Facilities and A Guide to the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations.


Sharps Guide

The following guide outlines the basic steps for avoiding sharps injury:

  • Avoid leaving sharps lying around
  • Avoid re-sheathing any used needles/razors
  • Do not bend or break needles before discarding them
  • Place contaminated sharps/razors in disposal containers approved to BS EN ISO 23907 - 1:2019 immediately after use. Do not use makeshift containers, eg drinks cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, for sharps disposal
  • Do not place anything sharp inside a yellow hazardous waste bag as it may cause injury. They may find their way into domestic waste, presenting a hazard to staff collecting waste and/or  members of the public
  • Do not try to retrieve items from a sharps container
  • Do not place sharps containers on the floor, window sills or above shoulder level. They should be stored above knee level and below shoulder level
  • Lock the container when it is three-quarters full using the closure mechanism. Do not try to press sharps down to make more room
  • Close the aperture to the sharps container when carrying or if left unsupervised, to prevent spillage or tampering
  • Place damaged sharps containers inside a larger sharps container
  • Carry sharps containers by the handle, away from the body
  • Keep all sharps waste in a designated, secure area until it is collectedLock the container prior to disposal and check local procedures for labelling requirements


Schools and Departments should specify the procedures, for example, spill kits and their location, decontamination procedures etc. Where relevant, this should also include the disinfectants to be used for dealing with a spillage and other forms of contamination.

All spills should be made as safe as soon as possible and staff should be protected by the appropriate use of protective clothing.

Accidental Contamination

In the event of accidental contamination, the affected area should be washed thoroughly with running water and a first aider requested by calling extension 2222. If the skin is broken, encourage the wound to bleed, do not suck the wound or swallow any water used to wash out the mouth or nose.

In cases where exposure is considered to be higher risk, for example, a needlestick/sharps injury from a source with a significant risk factor for BBV infection, immediate medical attention must be obtained from the Accident and Emergency Department without delay so that a full assessment of the risk can be undertaken and appropriate treatment/follow-up measures can be implemented, where appropriate. 

Where the exposure is considered to be a lower risk, for example, a skin/mucous membrane splash from an individual not at high risk of being a BBV carrier then the Accident and Emergency Department should be contacted for appropriate advice.  

The Occupational Health Service should also be notified as soon as possible in order that the appropriate advice can be given.

Local reporting protocols should be followed, the Head of Department notified and an Incident/Near Miss Form (Form S1e) sent to Health and Safety by post or by e-mail to in accordance with the University’s incident reporting procedures.

The relevant School/Department must ensure that any persons within their area that are accidentally contaminated through infected blood/body fluids are followed up with to ensure appropriate treatment, counselling and support has been implemented and that an effective prevention strategy is in place.

If a member of staff contracts a blood borne disease as a result of an injury at work this must be reported to the University Health and Safety Advisor, their Head of Department and Occupational Health Service. On receipt of a letter from the member of staff’s General Practitioner diagnosing the disease, the University Health and Safety Advisor will notify the Health and Safety Executive of the disease in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

There may be occasions where exposure would be classed as very low risk, for example, blood/body fluid on intact skin, it may be appropriate to wash the area thoroughly but gently with soap and running water. However, if there are any concerns the Occupational Health Department or local A&E department should be contacted for advice.