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.
Crime scene cleaning is an excellent source of supplemental income for those working in the emergency services field. EMT's, Police, and firefighters are generally already knowledgeable about how to act at the scene of bio-hazardous incident or blood spill. Due to the danger presented by trauma scenes, biological hazards, sharps and blood spills should only be cleaned by trained professionals. One prick from an infected needle can mean a lifetime of coping with a crippling disease. Emergency services professionals will have an upper hand on anyone else applying to a crime scene cleaning job due to their preexisting knowledge of blood borne pathogen safety.
In addition to knowing how to work safely in a hazardous environment, many Emergency Services Professionals have already seen the type of gruesome homicides, suicides, and trauma scenes that are commonplace to a trained technician. Being psychologically prepared to see, and actually clean up a violent crime scene, is essential to becoming a crime scene cleaner. It's not a trait that everyone has, thus giving Police, Firefighters and EMTs another upper hand on other potential hires. Furthermore, many companies offer patrol car, ambulance, and jail cell cleaning, something police and EMTs will already be familiar with.
But with the busy schedule of an EMS worker, how is it possible to retain employment with a crime scene cleanup company? Due to the unpredictable nature of this business, the amount of staff needed varies from day to day. A large cleanup job could easily necessitate up to four technicians in order to complete the job in a timely fashion. A small job, such as a medical waste pickup, may only require one or two technicians. Because of the irregularity inherent to the bio-hazardous decontamination and cleaning business, many companies will have a core group of technicians, with several others on an on-call basis. Emergency Services Workers will almost always receive employment over a civilian when applying to work for a crime scene cleaning company.
On the arrival at a property where a death has occurred, especially after a vicious death, important tasks are performed by the policemen, firemen and CSI investigators. But as a general statute, these civil servants do not clean up the mess. It is the responsibility of the victim's family to mop up after the violent death of their member. Until recent times, just a few companies offered this kind of service, so, most of the time, the family still ended up doing the work. This is a service that is expensive. Crime Scene clean up service begins at approximately $600 per hour. And, actually, most people are willing to pay more.
The clean-up of a natural death or a suicide is a part of the cleaning industry. This is called the CTS Decon or the Crime and Trauma Decontamination. This type of clean up involves the removal of dangerous objects. A dangerous crime could be one of brutal death that is biologically contaminated or a scene that contains chemical contamination. The cleanup team returns the scene to the state it was in before the incident happened.
Typically, a family does not move out of their house even if the death that occurred in their home was a violent one. It is the job of the scene cleaners to remove the signs of the incident. This removal includes any bio hazards which were the result of the crime. Federal regulations consider all bodily fluids as bio hazards. Bodily fluids also include the tissue or blood because they can be a source of infection.
A blood cleanup specialist must have special knowledge of bio hazardous materials in order to be able to handle them safely. Also, crime scene cleaners are knowledgeable on what to look for to clean in a death scene. This type of cleaning requires more than "just a good spring cleaning". Permits are also needed for anyone who needs to move and dispose the bio hazardous wastes.
Most people who become cleaners typically come from the medical field. Because of their background in medicine, they are prepared to handle viewing a bloody scene. They could be nurses from an emergency rooms or an Emergency Medical Technician [EMT]. Construction workers are another group of workers who make good crime scene cleaners. They are able to remove walls and other structures. Because of the splatter of blood and tissue this is sometimes required in the clean up after a death. Other characteristics required in a strong crime scene cleaner are strong stomach, capacity to emotionally separate from his line of work and sympathetic nature.
Why a sympathetic nature? Because crime scene clean up is a lot different from cleaning up after a hazardous leak in a chemical plant. Many times, the family members of the deceased are still present while the clean-up is occurring. The cleaners must be able to complete their job while being sensitive to the state of the family who has ex.