Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the attitudes and behaviours of registered nurses and their colleagues around the adoption of standard precautions in order to determine strategies to promote adherence. Design: A qualitative exploratory descriptive design used interviews and focus group to collect data. Setting: Registered nurses and registered midwifes from a tertiary metropolitan hospital took part in the study. Participants: A voluntary sample of 29 adults was recruited from the Australian nursing (n = 25) and midwifery (n = 4) workforce. There were six men (mean age = 36.83 years; SD = 8.93) and 23 women (mean age = 41.36 years; SD = 10.25). Participants were recruited through advertisement on notice boards and emails from unit managers. Results: Thematic analysis revealed five themes but the focus here is on staff judgements which are against the guidelines. Participants indicated that where in their judgement the patient posed no risk and they judged themselves skilled in the procedure, they were justified in deviating from the guidelines. Some staff judgements appeared to be self-protecting, while others were irrational and inconsistent. Conclusions: Despite use of standard precautions being mandated, staff often deviated from them based on their own assessment of the situation or the patient. Any deviance from the guidelines is of concern but especially so when staff take it upon themselves to apply their own criteria or judgements. These results also suggest there may be some organisational inadequacies with regards to training and supervision of staff.