UMHS Grossing Safety Procedures

Body Substance Precautions (BSP)

Body substance precautions are observed throughout the laboratory to prevent contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials.  All body fluids are considered potentially infectious.  All procedures involving blood or other moist body substances shall be performed in such a manner as to minimize splashing, spraying, spattering, and generation of droplets of these substances.

Blood and other body fluid spills should first be soaked up with absorbent material (e.g., paper towels). The area should then be cleaned using 10% bleach solution.

Work surfaces/laboratory bench tops shall be cleaned and decontaminated after contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials or after completion of laboratory procedures.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will appropriately be utilized in all laboratories as assigned based on the task assessment, which does not allow blood, other potentially infectious materials, or hazardous chemical exposure to pass through to or otherwise reach the employee’s work clothes (e.g., scrubs), street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time the protective equipment is used.

All PPE is removed immediately prior to leaving the work area, or as soon as possible, and placed in an appropriately designated area or container for storage, washing, decontamination, or disposal within each individual laboratory.

Gloves must be worn for blood and body fluid precautions and when working with heat sources, subzero cold sources, and hazardous chemicals. Gloves must be removed when outside the technical area.  Gloves must be replaced whenever torn or appreciably soiled with blood or body fluids. Hands must be washed immediately after removing gloves. When removing gloves, grasp the cuff of the glove and pull the glove off inside out. Avoid touching the skin.  Never wash and reuse disposable gloves.

Disposal – if not visibly contaminated dispose in regular trash. If visibly grossly contaminated dispose in biohazard receptacle.

Personal Protective Equipment


Lab coat – knee length, long sleeved, buttoned

Tasks that involve exposure to potential biological or chemical hazards

Gloves – nitrile, chemical resistant

Tasks that involve exposure to potential biological or chemical hazards

Safety glasses – must meet ANSI Z87.1

Tasks that involve exposure to potential biological or chemical hazards

 Hazardous Chemicals

A system of local and/or general exhaust is recommended to keep employee exposures below the established exposure limits. Local exhaust ventilation is generally preferred because it can control the emissions of the contaminant at its source, preventing dispersion of it into the general work area.

Use center of cutting board where optimal exhaust control is provided.  Place specimen / cups on or near bench top away from breathing zone.  Cap open containers and waste funnel to minimize vapors.  Use magnifying tools on Mopec grossing station to prevent bending into direct vapors. Store fixed specimens and blocks in vented storage cabinet.

Wear impervious protective clothing, including boots, gloves, lab coat, apron or coveralls, as appropriate, to prevent skin contact.  Use chemical safety goggles and/or a full face shield where splashing is possible. Maintain eye wash fountain and quick-drench facilities in work area.

Accidental Release Measures: Ventilate area of leak or spill. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment. Isolate hazard area. Keep unnecessary and unprotected personnel from entering. Contain and recover hazardous material when possible. Collect waste in an appropriate container or absorb with an inert material (e. g., vermiculite, dry sand, earth), and place in a chemical waste container in accordance to UMHHC waste management policies. For large spills with excessive fumes, contact UMHHC emergency response team.


Do not carry a specimen container without a lid if there is fixative in the container. If you drop the container or drip any amount of fixative on the floor, immediately use spill absorbent and paper towels to clean it.  Do not walk about the room with a specimen dripping in your hand; use a paper towel, a lid or a surgical towel.


Keep the lids of the inks on the bottles as much as possible.  If ink spills on the workstation or on the floor, wipe it immediately, if possible.  If any fluid is allowed to dry it is much harder to clean, so try to keep the work surface wet.


Radiation Safety


Radioactive sources can include liquids or solids that release radiation above normal background levels. Solids are most likely to be encountered in prostate specimens. See Pathology policy (found on the pathology home page) on handling prostate seeds. Seeds must not be handled until cleared by Safety Management Services.



Do not walk around the room carrying sharp objects.  If you must, be sure to check for anyone in your path and announce that you will be walking with a sharp object.  Keep the sharp edge facing the floor; carry it below your waist and the tip pointed to the floor.  Keep the blade handle firm in your grip and no more than 2 inches from the side of your leg.  

Needles, syringes, disposable razor blades, and other sharp items shall be placed in an UMHHC-approved puncture resistant container for disposal.


Used needles must not be cut, bent, broken or recapped by hand before disposal due to increased chance for injury when needles are manipulated. Sharps containers shall be located in all areas where needles and sharps are used and shall be secured so they will not be knocked over and their contents spilled.


Grossing Tools:

  • The #22 blade goes on the red-brown handle and the #60 blade fits the gray handle.  To put the #22 or #60 blade on their handle, put the tip of the blade on the cutting board and gently push down on the handle until it clicks into the opening.  Keep your hand at a safe position to the side and do not hold the blade in your hand.  Do not point the tip of the blade toward your hand or pointed at anyone.


  • To use the blade remover:  Carefully slide the tip of the blade into the opening for the blade remover.  Press down on the removal device closest to the handle (this will lift the back edge of the blade off of the holder).  While still pressing on the removal device, slide the blade and device off of the handle.  Put the blade over the sharps container and let it drop into the container.


  • To remove a blade from the handle using forceps. Point the tip of the blade at the back of the workstation and keep it low to the cutting surface.  Keeping your fingers close to the tip of the forceps, grasp the edge of the blade closest to the handle and lift it up over the blade holder.  Slide the blade carefully over the blade holder until it is separated from the blade handle.  Do not use a lot of force, as this could cause the blade to fly out of your grasp.


  • For large blades (brown Accu-edge) and handles. Hold the edge with the holes in the hand you will use to slide the blade.  Hold it near the end that you will carefully slide into the blade housing.  Reposition your fingers to further slide the blade in until you reach the other end (first hole of the blade lines with the screw opening).  Screw to hand tightening.  To remove the blade, unscrew until the blade is released and use the forceps to grip the hole that is exposed past the blade holder.  Slowly pull the blade out from the holder and be careful not to cut yourself or anyone nearby.



Use fatigue mats when long periods of standing are required.  Place items on work station to avoid excessive bending, reaching and stretching.  Use a chair if needed to avoid excessive movement.

Health and Safety Manual

The pathology laboratory’s health and safety manual is located online.  Go to and there is a link that will take you to the manual on the pathology homepage.  ALL Pathology Department employees MUST read this health and safety manual.  For further information, you can contact the Pathology Department’s safety officer, Brenda Schroeder at or 734-615-7902.