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.
Knowing how to respond to a certain situation is very important for a crime scene cleaner. This is why knowing the different kinds of crime scenes are not just vital but quite critical since a specific kind may need a different approach or system for securing it. Each type of crime scene clean up comes with different levels of hazard and unique grossness to it that may need special actions or methods to deal with. After all, crime scene clean up is not just about apparently cleaning it but assuring that is really clean which will mean a hazard and infection-free place, just like what it have been before the crime happened.
The most common crime scene clean up includes a violent death, decomposing body and methamphetamine labs. For violent death crimes resulting from a crime of homicide, suicides and street accidents, the usual problem encountered during a cleanup is the tons of blood involved. Aside from blood, there are also bodily fluids and blood byproducts that may carry germs, bacteria and infectious diseases. This is the type of crime scene why a cleaner must undergo blood borne pathogen training to deal with it in the safest way possible.
For a scene that involves a decomposing body or a decaying body, it will have a lesser bloody mess but is equally or more gruesome than violent death scenario. However, the gore sight from a violent death will be replaced by a disgustful smell. Decaying body has already gone through changes that results to a release of ammonia gas which is the source of the foul odor associated with it. Although the police or a crime investigator removes the decaying body before a scene clean up, there are still residues from the body such as liquefied body matter and odors and insects that had entered the body carrying the dead's blood. In this case, hard core cleaners like foggers and odor removers are mostly needed.
Lastly, proper crime-scene clean up for methamphetamine labs does not only include cleaning and removing any foul odor from the place. Of the three kinds of crime scenes, methamphetamine labs are the most dangerous and with the highest health risk involved although there is no gross blood factor found in death scenes. This crime scene has a very high level of toxicity and poisons that are infused in every surface in the lab and stays in the air. Exposure to these poisons such as acetone, methanol, iodine and ammonia that usually being absorbed by the skin may lead to serious illnesses and damage to lungs, kidneys and livers. If the place is not yet declared as safe and truly clean, it will also pose great danger to the public. All the things including furniture and furnishings should remove and dispose of properly.
Films and TV programmes such as CSI have glamourised the often difficult work of crime scene cleaners. It's not a job for the faint of heart, but becoming a crime scene cleaner can be a rewarding career and also a great way to get your foot in the door if you are interested in similar occupations.
Crime scene clean up covers a very niche market within the cleaning industry. Decontamination is a key part of the job and the role involves cleaning up dangerous material. The sort of scenarios a crime scene cleaner could find themselves faced with include the scene of a violent death (accidental, homicide or suicide) or an area contaminated with dangerous chemical materials, such as anthrax.
Safety is paramount when cleaning a crime and although you aren't required to undergo any form of specialised training to become a crime scene cleaner, it is wise to make sure that you have at least some understanding of the types of hazards you may be up against. Undertaking blood-borne pathogen training would be beneficial, for example, as you will be dealing with contaminated blood on a daily basis in the role.
The type of cleaning you will be performing must be extensive; otherwise you leave the risk of infection from biohazard materials. You will need specialist knowledge of how to safely handle and dispose of biohazardous material and what to look for at a scene. An example of this could be awareness that a bloodstain might have permeated more than just a carpet, there could be traces of blood could have found their way into the floorboards as well.
If you've already read this far, there's a good chance that you do have the stomach for the job, but it's very important to ensure that you can handle the more traumatic aspects of the job. You have to be prepared for extreme gore and the fact that you will be disposing of human remains. Any crime scene cleaner needs three key qualities: an iron stomach, the ability to emotionally detach from his work and to be sympathetic.
A sympathetic nature is important because you will be interacting with grieving families who are attempting to come to terms with their loss. Crime cleaners hold a very awkward position because they have to remain sensitive to the tragic nature of the scene but also be stoic in the face of having to clear up gut-wrenching physical remains. It's very difficult to find someone who can do both.