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Managing infection risks when handling the deceased

Guidance for the mortuary, post-mortem room and funeral premises, and during exhumation

Managing infection risks when handling the deceased
Date of publication:
July 2018
Series code:
Download a free copy - HSG283

COVID-19 update

This guide does not cover COVID-19 specifically but details standard infection control and transmission-based precautions that should be followed in the workplace.

The guide should be read in conjunction with Public Health England’s new guidance for care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) on GOV.UK.

About this guidance

This publication provides guidance on managing the risks of infection from work activities which involve handling the deceased. It covers the safe handling, storage and examination of bodies and pathological specimens in hospitals, mortuaries and post-mortem rooms. It also provides guidance for those involved in funeral services (including embalmers) and exhumations of human remains.

It updates and combines previous HSE guidance, Safe working and the prevention of infection in the mortuary and post-mortem room (2003) and Controlling the risks of infection at work from human remains (2005), based on a review of scientific knowledge, stakeholder feedback and experience of how the previous guidance was used in the workplace.

Updated: 2020-04-06