When the police, medical examiners and investigators leave the scene of a crime or death, professional cleaning and restoration companies often step in to take care of the labor-intensive aftermath cleanup.
In the event of a violent crime or death, there is usually blood and other bodily fluids that require special handling for disposal. Federal regulations deem all bodily fluids to be biohazards and potential sources of infection, which is why crime and trauma scene decontamination is most often performed by professionals who possess the necessary training and permits to transport and dispose of biohazardous waste (e.g., blood, bodily fluids, tissue, etc.).
Professional crime scene cleanup crews do more than clean up the aftermath of violent death. They often provide services for cleaning out hoarding situations, dead animal/carrion removal (such as an animal that died inside a wall cavity), or METH lab cleanup. In the case of meth labs, there may be hazardous chemicals or chemical residue present, which is why it is imperative that a professional crime scene cleanup crew perform the work.
Incidents of vandalism may require special cleaning precautions as well. From removing tear gas to cleaning fire extinguisher residue, the professionals who handle this sort of work are not your everyday cleaners.
Crime scene cleanup is a term applied to a forensic cleanup of blood, bodily fluids, and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). It is also referred to as biohazard remediation, and forensic cleanup, because crime scenes are only a portion of the situations in which biohazard cleaning is needed. Incidents which may require this type of cleanup include accidents, suicide (or attempted suicide), homicides, and decomposition after an unattended death, as well as mass trauma, industrial accidents, infectious disease contamination, animal biohazard contamination (e.g. feces or blood), or regulated waste transport, treatment, and disposal.
Types of cleanups
Crime scene cleanup includes blood spills following an assault, homicide, or suicide. There are many different sub-segments, named primarily after additional collateral, contingency, or preconditions, regarding the presence of non-blood borne organics, toxic irritants (e.g., tear gas), or disease vectors. However, it is the legality of charging a fee for mitigating potentially harmful biohazard situations that differentiates a registered crime or trauma practitioner from any general restoration, carpet cleaning, janitorial, or housekeeping service.
With concerns about Ebola contamination in the United States, crime scene cleanup companies have been contracted by the government to clean more than just crime scenes.
While the field of crime scene cleanup is not specifically regulated as a class, most if not all of the activities performed by biohazard cleanup teams in the United States are regulated or fall under best practice guidelines from governing and advisory bodies such as OSHA, NIOSH, DOT, and EPA. Those who hire a crime scene cleanup company should make sure that they are properly trained in applicable federal and state regulations and can provide documentation of proper biohazardous waste disposal from licensed medical waste transportation and disposal companies. If in California or Florida the client should confirm that the company is registered with the state Department of Health. A few states such as California, New York, and Florida are the only states that explicitly require registration or licensing for crime scene cleanup. Other states may require biohazardous waste transport permits from the DOT.
In the US, OSHA requires that exposure to blood-borne pathogens be limited as much as possible due to the assumption that the blood and biological material is infectious. Most actions are taken to limit exposure fall under cross-contamination protocols, which provide that certain actions be taken to avoid further spreading the contamination throughout otherwise clean areas. CTS De-con companies should have in place, an exposure control plan before beginning work on any trauma scene. Under employee safety and cross-contamination protocols, the following OSHA regulations may pertain to bioremediation.
- OSHA29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(ii)- Initial Assessment of Work: Must assess work site for potential hazards to employee safety. OSHA 29 CFR 1910