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 Lecanto (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 Crime Scene 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.
Not long ago I was asked the above stated question. I would like to share my answer with you.
In most states in the U.S. just about anyone can get into bio cleaning or crime scene clean up with little or no training should they want to. But, before your Joe Carpet Cleaner gets into this service he needs to consider a few things first. He needs to know that the federal government through OSHA regulates the bio cleaning industry by means of the Bloodborne Pathogen Rule 1910.1030. This regulation states that each company engaging in such a service as to where the employees have a "reasonable anticipation" of coming into contact with blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM), they must have a written "exposure control plan", that plan will set the perimeters of conduct through certain engineering controls, and training in every aspect with a thorough understanding of this plan needs to be accomplished, and documented before the technician goes into the field. Since there are things lurking in blood that can literally kill him, or his employees, and with a slow death, he and/or his employees need to receive a Hepatitis B vaccine at company expense.
This vaccine is a series of three shots and each individual needs to have the first shot at least 10 days before entering a scene. If the employee refuses to have this vaccine, that employee needs to sign a declination form and have it further explained, through this form, that the offer for a vaccination is open to him at anytime in the future, should he change his mind. He really should have training in a certain amount of epidemiology, specifically disease transference. He needs to know the different kinds of pathogens and bacteria that can be lying in wait for the right opportunity to set up shop in a host, namely Joe or his employee. By the way Joe shouldn't be trying to suck up this blood into his truck mount. Every state does have regulations as to how medical waste needs to be disposed of, and everyone should be familiar with and follow such state regulations. Also, he would contaminate his carpet cleaning equipment and the next customer wouldn't appreciate cross contamination into their space.
Liabilities loom great in the bio cleaning business, mainly because you're ultimately dealing in someone's health. At least Joe Carpet Cleaner has knowledge about cleaning processes. However, you'd be surprised how many people within the medical field or first responders (police, fireman, etc.) wanting to get into the bio cleaning industry and don't have a clue as to basic cleaning techniques, which is essential. But, then again, Joe also needs to acquire basic knowledge of construction. He needs to know that if a portion of a wall or ceiling needs to be removed, what may be on the interior of that wall or what could be above that ceiling. Cutting into a live electrical wire or cutting into a water pipe can have disastrous results. Deodorization techniques should be in his knowledge base, knowing how to deodorize from decomp is paramount. There are other regulations our would-be carpet cleaner will have to know. Such as, the Hazard Communications Standard 1910.1200, and certainly the Respiratory Protection Standard 1910.134, and still others like, the Confined Space, and Fall Protection Standards. Joe shouldn't be the type of person that says to himself, "I can see that stuff and never get sick."
Joe is only thinking about the visual. However, he needs to know that he's going to feel it, (it feels slick and fatty), he's going to smell it, (has a strong menstruation blood odor), and it won't be some animal he's killed while hunting, it's human. Every tech I've had including myself has suffered from "stress dreams". These dreams have weird story lines and usually deal with blood and gore. This comes from "Critical Incident Stress Syndrome," (CISS), or what some call "Secondary Post Traumatic Syndrome."
These dreams and the stress that comes from doing this work can lead to grave psychological disorders for people who can't handle these stresses. Joe will have to learn how to defuse or debrief this stress in him and in his employees. This stress doesn't just come from seeing and handling the physical, it comes while dealing with grief stricken individuals. Joe should develop the coping, emotional, and social skills necessary to help these individuals in dealing with his work while not allowing himself to be caught up in the fray. He'll need to learn when just to listen while various stories are recounted, and what to say and not say in response. He'll need to be able to explain his work order and obtain the proper signatures while people are struggling with grief, and disbelief often times bursting into tears when they feel overwhelmed. "Compassion" is the watchword.
There is other work within the bio cleaning field Joe may have to respond to. One would be "unsanitary dwellings." This is what some people call "pack rats". The dwelling gets so stuffed of garbage and trash you usually have to walk through the house or apartment through paths. Many times buckets and jars of human waste accumulate, sometimes drug paraphernalia, and if they die in this mess, well it can lead to quite the job. Bio cleaning is more than death and trauma. I'm sure Joe would enjoy the revenue from bio cleaning. Most bio cleans bring in an 85% gross profit margin, and it is possible to earn up to $200 per man hour when you get the work.
After all this, to really answer your question, I don't believe bio cleaning is the type of business Joe can just walk into and start one day. Like any other business it takes planning, and as you can see it will take a certain amount of training. There's no law preventing Joe from doing this work or taking the risk involved, but as you can see that's not the only consideration.
At this time more Americans are hiring professional services to deal with hazardous or dirty jobs that either contain environmental hazards or have emotional trauma associated with an event that is both dangerous and emotional. For example a primary work of crime scene cleaners is to handle the aftermath cleanup of a tragedy or even like a homicide or suicide.
In addition to this they deal with other death related jobs such as natural death and any type of blood cleanup that comes as a byproduct of someone losing their life, whether due to a natural occurrence, medical reason, or taking of their life by force. It is a traumatic situation that along with the hazards required a personality that is well trained and suited for handling this kind of event. The blood that must have cleanup is the major reason for professional help.
Blood can contain unseen harmful pathogens that when outside of the body can reap havoc on people around the scene. It is up the crime scene cleaners to make sure that all of this is not only cleaned and picked up but must also have a sanitizing solution on it to decontaminate that surrounding area. Once this is all finished the remediation is not complete, the cleaners must then transport the blood waste to a incineration facility and destroy all remains. In dealing with the aftermath of a homicide or unattended death where a large amount of blood or body decomposition may have been resting at the property for a larger period of time, they must also dispose of parts of the home that needed to be removed.
In many cases they are removing flood boards, parts of walls, carpeting, and other flooring or ceiling materials that were effected and in which the best way to complete the cleanup is by completely removing the items. Cleaning companies can not perform these functions because traditional cleaning businesses do not have the right training or licensing, including blood and waste transport licenses that crime scene cleaners have. Due to this fact about crime scene cleanup, it is essential to the safety of everyone involved, including whoever is cleaning, that the scene be remediated by actual licensed businesses who have the training and knowledge of what to do when dealing with blood from a death.
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