NIOSH Web Page on Body Art Offers Recommendations for Preventing Potential Bloodborne Pathogen Exposures


NIOSH Update:

Contact: Christina Bowles (202) 245-0633
November 29, 2007

In a new web page, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends strategies to reduce body artists’ potential risks of work-related exposures to bloodborne pathogens in applying tattoos or piercings.

The page, “NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Body Art,” can be found at Measures recommended for preventing unintended contact with clients’ blood include:

  • Having and following a plan at the shop to minimize employees’ exposures to blood.
  • Using a sharps disposal container for discarding used tattoo needles or other sharp instruments.
  • Changing or disposing of gloves as appropriate – for example, if the artist is leaving his or her work area, or if a glove tears.
  • Properly cleaning and sterilizing reusable tools, equipment, and work areas.

“The new topic page fulfills a need that practitioners have voiced to NIOSH – a need for a well-organized, one-stop, user-oriented resource for information on minimizing work-related exposures to blood in tattooing and piercing,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.

The web page presents recommendations and resources under four headings: vaccinating and educating, preventing needlestick injuries, reducing cross-contamination, and a guide to additional information about topics related to body piercing and tattooing.

Recommendations are based on regulations and other materials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) pertaining to potential occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and findings and recommendations by NIOSH. The NIOSH findings include results of health hazard evaluations at body piercing establishments.

Also available for downloading from the web page are post cards that note simple ways to reduce exposures to bloodborne pathogens in the body art industry. NIOSH has sent copies of the post cards to tattoo and body piercing shops across the U.S. in conjunction with the new web page.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Further information on NIOSH, call toll-free 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit the NIOSH web page at

Page last reviewed: August 6, 2012