The police, fire department and crime-scene investigators who arrive at a crime scene perform crucial tasks in the aftermath of a death. But they don’t, as a general rule, clean up. The cleaning is ultimately left up to the family or loved ones. In the past, these types of cleanups would be washed up by a simple garden hose and towel, mopped up with household chemicals, or at the very best cleaned by the mortician.
In 1970, under President Nixon, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) was passed. Under this legislation, employers were to be held responsible for worker safety and their exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Although OSHA had regulation for employees contact and exposure, there was no agency to protect the home/business owners from improper cleaning procedures and illegal dumping of biohazardous medical waste. Throughout the years, OSHA and ADEQ have raised the standards for the Crime Scene Cleaning (CSC) Industry and filtered out unqualified construction, restoration, and carpet cleaning companies. As more and more of these companies stopped offering CSC because of the extensive training and compliance required by State and Federal agencies, a niche industry was born.
The CSC Industry is becoming a vital ally to police depts., fire depts., constables, property management companies, body shops, funeral homes and various state agencies, such as victims witness and homicide survivors. After a tragic incident, it is helpful to have someone unattached from the family clean the scene as it can create painful memories. Customers will have peace of mind that the scene is properly disinfected and free of any infectious diseases. CSC companies keep businesses OSHA compliant by preventing exposure of bloodborne pathogens to untrained employees.
Each state has their own rules and regulations for CSC companies. A CSC company must possess a contractor’s license from the State Registrar of Contractors. The contractor’s license is required because biohazardous waste cannot be removed from many common household building materials. For example, drywall, carpet, permanent fixtures, and other porous materials must be removed if contaminated. Secondly, a Biohazardous Medical Waste Transportation License from ADEQ or the use of a licensed waste transporter is required. Without this license, biohazardous waste cannot be properly disposed at certified facilities. CSC companies are also required to be OSHA compliant. This includes bloodborne pathogen (BBP) training, respiratory fit testing, and training, written BBP exposure control plan, and providing a method to remove and properly store biohazardous waste. Lastly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires companies to use EPA approved chemicals for the removal and decontamination of biohazardous waste.
The largest issue within the CSC industry is illegal dumping. Within the ramifications for transport, there is an underlying grey area. A company is required to possess a Biohazardous Medical Waste Transportation License or have a licensed waste transporter pick up the waste. Since most CSC jobs happen after the hour’s transportation companies are open, CSC companies who use a transporter and get a call after hours are faced with a decision. A) Pass the job onto a properly licensed company, or B) Illegally transport and dump waste. If biohazardous waste is illegally transported, it is usually illegally dumped. Proper disposal facilities will not accept waste from anyone other than a licensed transporter. Through the research of OSHA, ADEQ and EPA, we know the dangers of illegal dumping. Hepatitis can remain dormant for up to a year and is reactivated with just a drop of water. If biohazardous waste containing hepatitis is illegally dumped and made its way to a water supply, we could see a mass outbreak in our city.
Bio-Solutions Emergency Cleaning Services was created to be a guiding light in a dark industry. Not only do they possess all the required licenses, meet or exceed OSHA, ADEQ and EPA requirements, but Bio Solutions also extensively trains employees in grief counseling and trauma intervention.
Discovering a death at a property is something of a shock to anyone. When this happens the first thing that should be done is to contact the police to make sure no crime was committed. The police and coroner will come to the property and remove the body from the premises and then they will release the property back to the management company or family if it is a residential home. Upon the release there is a number of things that must be understood and handled. First you will need to make sure the home is safe for other people to enter. After the body is removed there will be biohazard fluids and blood which will need cleanup in order for this to happen. At this point due to the biohazard nature and risks involved in cleaning up blood or after a death it is important to make sure you hire a company that is designated and licensed to be able to do this kind of work. That type of company is commonly referred to as crime scene cleanup even if there is no crime involved, some people refer to them as death cleanup businesses, but either way they are a specifically trained and skilled type of hazmat service that is able to handle this.
Once the crime scene cleanup people are onsite and at the property, they will complete a full evaluation of the damages. They will want to know how the death occurred to help them know what they are dealing with. If it is a suicide cleanup for example, they may have to take into account the exit wound of the bullet and trajectory of the blood splatter to determine if ceiling panels, walling, room furniture, or flooring will need to be removed. If it is a homicide cleanup, they will want to know what rooms the assault happened in according to the police and will want to know if fingerprinting dust was used or tear gas used to apprehend the assailant. Or it may be a natural or unattended death and in this case they need to know where the body was when found and how many days unattended to determine how bad the flooring may be damaged.
After this evaluation is done, they will begin the cleaning, with the primary objective being to decontaminate all affected areas. This means they must complete the death cleanup of any substances that are visible, which may be removing floor boards and ceiling panels. The next step is to sterilize the property to make sure any blood borne pathogens or other hazardous like MRSA, STAPH, C-DIFF, HIV or Hepatitis are destroyed and can no longer cause any harm to any human or animal that may soon enter the property.
When the most unimaginable thing happens to a loved one this is who we turn to. It is very unfortunate that today we cannot even trust the people in this profession. There have been many crime scene cleanup companies that take advantage of the customer in this time of need by charging $10,000 plus for a job that could be done for a fraction of the cost. One of the things to look for; are they local not just providing service to your area. Many of them offer nationwide coverage but they do so by charging an outrageous amount, so they can fly to where the crime scene is at. Buy the equipment needed to do the job and fly back home. That is a big expense that gets passed onto you the customer. Most reputable cleaners will have all their equipment in a truck and will not take jobs they cannot drive to in a reasonable time. Instead they will refer you to someone in your area so that you can get this tragedy behind you and move on with your life.
This is not a job most people should take on themselves but if you have to do some research so that you are protected. Like be sure to wear a face mask, gloves, and clothes that hazardous materials will not easily soak through. There is a real danger of infectious diseases and viruses in crime scenes where blood and other bodily fluids are. Most hazardous items can be taken care of with bleach just spray it on and let it set for a few minutes. There are many other trade secrets to getting your home back to normal usually there has to be something to remove the odor and this takes other equipment. I pray that if you are reading this it is just for information and not because you do need this service. If you need help try to stay calm and talk to several cleaners before making a choice. I have researched this myself and there are companies available that truly care about you not just your money.
Google is a good place to start your search for crime scene cleanup or cleaners; Check for reviews and check with the better business bureau; Then contact the company and ask for phone numbers of previous clients. Be sure to find out if they are local or at least have a team in your area. If you feel they are just after your money your probably right so call someone else. A little research you can get a basic idea of how this process works so that you can ask specific questions to see if they actually know what they are doing.