OSHA mandated the use of universal precautions as a form of infection control in the early 1990s, after it became clear that HIV spread through exposure to blood and certain other bodily fluids. One of the most interesting aspects of the mandate is that the 1987 CDC document on which OSHA standards are based explicitly acknowledges the fact that medical history and examination are not reliable methods of identifying blood-borne illnesses in all patients. This is still true, particularly during the early weeks of HIV infection, even though HIV testing has improved. It is also a problem for several other illnesses.
The specific implementation of universal precautions varies from situation to situation. For example, while nurses might just wear gloves during standard outpatient care, in other situations gowns, masks, and eye shields may be indicated.