It is common practice to wear gloves while processing a crime scene. But why, when and what type of gloves?
There are two primary reasons for wearing gloves. One is to protect us from the evidence. The other is to protect the evidence from us. In this post I will discuss the first reason—protection from the evidence.
When we are using gloves for our protection, we are attempting to protect ourselves from biohazardous substances such as blood, urine and semen. On December 6, 1991, OSHA issued Title 29, Section 1910.1030, of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Bloodborne. Occupations at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens include law enforcement, emergency response, and forensic laboratory personnel.
Fundamental to the bloodborne pathogens standard is the concept of following universal precautions. This concept is the primary mechanism for infection control. It requires that employees treat all blood, body fluids, or other potentially infectious materials as if infected with bloodborne diseases, such as the hepatitis B virus (HBV), the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The following protective measures should be taken to avoid direct contact with potentially infectious materials:
Regarding gloves, it is important to use relatively thick gloves and change them often. If your agency provides you with thin gloves you should double-glove for adequate protection.
In my next post I will discuss the second reason for wearing gloves in the crime scene—to protect the evidence from us.