After years of watching crime shows, movies, and documentaries, you may wonder how much of the information is accurate. The media has a way of glamorizing and exaggerating ideas of the jobs people do on a daily basis. Crime scene cleanup is the perfect example. Crime scene cleaners have a messy job. It can also take a long time because, in real life, there is no montage that condenses hours or even days' worth of work into a few minutes.
Read ahead to take a look into the jobs of crime scene cleanup companies.
What Is a Crime Scene Cleanup?
Crime scene cleanup is referred to by several different names, including biohazard remediation and forensic cleanup. This is because crime scene cleaning involves more than basic cleaning.
The job of a crime scene cleaner is to clean and restore areas where violent crimes have taken place. Crime scene cleaners specialize in the cleaning and disinfecting of homes, businesses, vehicles, and other areas where a crime has occurred. This cleaning often entails biohazardous substances such as blood, bodily fluids, and other substances that can threaten human or animal health.,
Crime scenes can be challenging to look at, let alone clean. They leave behind the traumatic evidence of homicide, suicide, and unattended death. For this reason, this job is often reserved for people with extensive knowledge in deep cleaning, biohazard removal, and decontamination.
After all investigations have concluded and evidence has been collected, the next step is to renew the area back to its original condition. After a crime scene has been cleaned, it removes all evidence of the events that took place.
How Is Crime Scene Cleanup Different?
Unlike traditional cleaning, crime scene cleanup requires more patience and attention. While traditional cleaners may encounter their fair share of dirt and grime, most crime scene cleaners face hazardous waste.
Crime scene cleaning is more than taking care of a dirty room. It requires delicacy and precision because there are various risks associated with the improper cleaning and removal of biohazard waste.
Here are some risks associated with improper crime scene cleaning.
Health and Safety Risks
If a crime scene is not cleaned correctly, it leaves behind a considerable risk to the health and safety of the public. Biohazards require special cleaning for a reason. They are filled with bacteria, pathogens, and viruses that can spread and impact the health and safety of humans and animals that come in contact with them.
Crime scene cleaners often handle the removal of blood and other bodily fluids from different surfaces. Blood and bodily fluids contain infectious microorganisms that can cause disease in humans who come in direct contact. These are known as bloodborne pathogens and are one of the many reasons why crime scene cleaners are required to use heavy-duty personal protection equipment.
Some common bloodborne pathogens include:
Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
Hepatitis B and C
Proper cleaning and disinfection of crime scenes are crucial for the health and safety of staff and those who will come in direct contact with the crime scene.
If a crime scene is not cleaned correctly, it can leave powerful and unpleasant odors behind. No amount of bleach and other household cleaners can eliminate the smell of blood and other biohazards that have been sitting for a long time.
Crime scene cleaning companies use a combination of industrial-strength cleaners and tools to restore a crime scene back to its original look and smell. It can take a long time to collect all necessary evidence and for investigations to conclude. As blood and other biohazards are left to sit, they have time to settle into surfaces, leaving strong odor particles.
Crime scene cleaning companies may use some of these technologies to remove these odors.
Permanent stains and damage can be left on fabrics and other surfaces if they are not removed in a specific time period. To avoid this, crime scene cleaning companies use heavy-duty cleaners to remove biohazards from the property.
The Crime Scene Cleanup Process
The crime scene cleanup process is also vastly different from traditional deep cleanings. Because there are so many risks involved in an improper crime scene cleanup, the work needs to be more intricate, and there are a lot more steps involved. Here is a detailed explanation of the crime scene cleanup process.
Before starting any crime scene cleanup, cleaners examine the damage to determine the materials and tools that will be necessary. Crime scene cleanup companies may also use this time to determine how much time and labor is required for the job.
The determination of these things is based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for crime scene cleanup. Crime scene cleaners use this guideline to assess the safest and most effective strategies to get the job done.
Biohazard Cleanup Preparation
To prepare for cleanup and protect everyone’s safety, crime scene cleaning companies secure the area. This step involves containing the area and using plastic sheets or other barriers to prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of biohazards spreading.
The first step of the actual cleaning process is to remove all biohazards. This is the most dangerous step of cleaning as it entails removing blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids from the scene. As mentioned previously, exposure to these fluids puts crime scene cleaners at risk for viruses and diseases associated with bloodborne pathogens.
In this stage, crime scene cleaners remove fluids and contaminated items like furniture and decor. They might also use solutions to rehydrate and disinfect dried-up fluids.
Clean, Disinfect, and Deodorize
After all the biohazards are removed, cleaners can begin to clean, disinfect, and deodorize the area. Crime scene cleaning companies use EPA-approved disinfectants and cleaners to complete this step. Common household cleaners are not strong or reliable enough to handle the tough nature of biohazard cleans.
It can be challenging to remove odors from a space that calls for top-grade deodorizing machinery and solutions.
Crime scene cleaning companies make sure to use proper equipment, substances, and cleaning techniques to ensure safety every step of the way.
The final step of crime scene cleaning involves restoring and reconstructing any damage to the area. This step is dedicated to making the place look new again. Therefore, work in the restoration stage involved installing new carpets, drywall, and painting.
How Do People Become Crime Scene Cleaners in California?
Surprisingly, the qualifications for this job are not unattainable. Before taking a job as a crime scene cleaner, it is recommended to familiarize oneself with the nature of the job. There are no degree requirements or specific fields of study for this job.
The only thing that someone who wants this job must do is pass a bloodborne pathogen training course overseen by OSHA. Crime scene cleaning involves potential health risks and exposure to these pathogens. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the dangers associated with the job and what is required to adhere to safety protocols.
Crime scene cleaners often transition from other fields where seeing death is common. They have usually done work as EMTs, police officers, or other similar jobs.
What Are Some Qualities of a Good Crime Scene Cleaner?
Although this job does not require a college degree, there are still a few physical and personal qualities that are important to have as a crime scene cleaner. Here are some of those qualities.
Training - Even though a college degree is not required, most crime scene cleaning companies need their employees to have training on proper procedures and practices. Crime scene cleaners must know the appropriate sequence to clean it, the personal protection equipment required, and the safety risks associated with the job.
Attention to Detail - Crime scene cleanup can result in exposure to several diseases and viruses. For this reason, crime scene cleaners must always pay attention to their actions. Following protocol and paying attention are necessary for this profession.
Stamina - Any job that involves physical labor and deep cleaning can be exhausting. Crime scene cleanup requires hours of physical labor in biohazard suits, gloves, and facial coverings, so stamina is necessary for this job.
How Does Crime Scene Cleanup Work?
Now that we understand what crime scene cleaners do and how to become one, there might be questions about the more intricate details of the job. Here are some frequently asked questions about crime scene cleanup and their answers.
Who Hires Crime Scene Cleaners?
In most situations, the police and local government do not pay for crime scene cleanup. Instead, the responsibility to hire and pay for a crime scene cleaning company falls on homeowners or business owners. This is not always an out-of-pocket expense, as insurance policies may cover the cleaning.
How Do Crime Scene Cleaners Get Paid?
As mentioned before, the owners of the property are responsible for the cost of crime scene cleanup. Even still, there are multiple ways to get paid. Crime scene cleaning companies can charge upwards of $250 per hour.
This cost can be paid out of pocket by home or business owners. It can also be covered by insurance. Many insurance policies include biohazard cleaning, unattended deaths, and other situations that threaten public safety.
How Long Does Crime Scene Cleanup Take?
Depending on how messy the scene is, crime scene cleanup can take anywhere from two hours to two days. In cases where a body was not discovered immediately, the deodorizing and disinfecting may take longer.
What Tools Do Crime Scene Cleaners Use?
Crime scene cleanup requires a few types of cleaning tools. This job can require intricate work, so both small and large tools are needed. Additionally, because of the health risks associated with the job, crime scene cleaning companies must use disposable equipment.
Here are some of the equipment crime scene cleaning companies use:
Sharp cutting tools are used to remove parts of the carpet and wall.
Putty knives are used for scraping away dried-up fluids from surfaces.
Buckets, mops, sponges, and other scrubbing tools are used in the cleaning stage of a crime scene cleanup. These must be disposed of after use.
Deodorizing machines and solutions are used to eliminate any remaining odors after cleaning is completed.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn when performing a crime scene cleanup. PPE includes a protective suit, chemical spill boots, filtered respirators, and non-porous gloves.
Why Hire a Crime Scene Cleanup Company?
Crime scene cleanup can resurface traumatic feelings. Not to mention, it is a messy, time-consuming, and sometimes dangerous job. A crime scene cleanup company has trained employees who are experienced and have seen all the gory details many times before.
After a violent death, attempting to clean up the scene can be emotionally and mentally taxing. For the average home or business owner, this task can prove to be too much to handle.
What to Do if Your Business Becomes a Crime Scene?
Crime scene cleanup is a specialized industry that focuses on the cleaning, disinfecting, and restoration of areas affected by a crime. When running a business, the last the owner expects to deal with is their place of work becoming a crime scene. It can be incredibly difficult. Not only the idea of cleaning up the remnants of a crime but also returning to business as usual with the knowledge that a violent crime has occurred.
Crime scene cleanup companies are available for situations just like this. When someone opens a business, they never expect that one day they will be responsible for the cleaning of blood, urine, feces, or any other bodily fluids.
Here is what to do if your business becomes a crime scene.
Stay Calm and Call For Help
The first thing to do in case of an emergency is to call the local authorities. Make sure to inform them of any injuries and remain calm while providing information. Crime scenes can be scary and emotional. However, the worst thing to do is panic.
While waiting for the police, EMTs, and fire department, ensure the staff and customers are protected. If an incident occurs in the presence of others, the police may need to speak with them. Therefore, making sure that everyone is out of harm's way until help arrives is the best choice.
Call a Crime Scene Cleanup Company
After the investigation is completed and everyone has been cleared from the scene, call a crime scene cleanup company to take care of the mess that has been left behind. If a violent crime occurs before your eyes, it can be disturbing. Crime scene cleanup companies are experienced in taking care of these situations. They ensure the safe removal of bio-hazardous materials. They also leave your business disinfected and sanitized so people who come in contact with the former crime scene will not be at risk for viruses and diseases.
At HCI Environmental, we will handle your service with compassion, discretion, and urgency.
What to Do if Your Home Becomes a Crime Scene?
Things can become a bit more tricky when a residence is the setting of a crime scene. Without cameras or a pool of witnesses, it is crucial that every step, from the discovery of the crime to the end of the investigation, is handled with care. Your home should be your safe space which can make it more challenging to handle the reality that a crime has occurred there.
Here is what to do if your home becomes a crime scene.
Call the Police
The first thing to do in an emergency is to call the police. Alert them of the situation and do not touch anything. If there is a chance that you are in danger, find a safe place to hide and inform the operator of your location.
It is important to note that residents of a home might be considered suspects until proving innocence. After physical protection (hiding and calling the police) is covered, legal protection is the next priority. It would be wise to get in contact with a lawyer to figure out the next steps. In the meantime, follow the instructions of your attorney and the first responders to ensure that you receive the medical and psychiatric help that you need.
Take Care of Your Home After the Investigation Is Completed
Crime scene investigation can be a messy ordeal. The home that is returned to you might not look the same as the home you know. It can be an overwhelming sight. Although the medical examiner may have removed the body from the home, they do not clean up any further than that.
It is often recommended to hire a crime scene cleanup company before re-entering your home to avoid the traumatizing crime scene. If you are worried about the cost, you can check to see if your homeowner's insurance will cover the crime scene cleanup.
Allow the crime scene cleanup company to clean, disinfect, and deodorize your home while you take the time to heal. No one expects that things like this will happen to them. It can take a lot of time and the help of others to get past this.
Benefits of Hiring a Crime Scene Cleaner
There are several reasons why hiring a crime scene cleanup company is the best option. Here are a few:
Crime Scene Cleanup Can Be Disturbing
For the average person, being exposed to a crime scene is a gut-wrenching experience. It can be even worse if they knew the victim of the crime. Hiring a crime scene cleanup company relieves the burden of reliving that experience and seeing more things that will cause trauma.
Crime scene cleanup companies train employees on how to handle these environments effectively and get the job done no matter how messy it may be.
Crime Scene Cleanup Can Be Dangerous
Crime scene cleaners are exposed to various dangerous things on the job. Not only do they deal with biohazardous materials, but they also risk getting hurt by broken glass and other hidden items.
The biohazard risk is one of the most dangerous. If they are not wearing the proper personal protective equipment, they put themselves at risk of contracting viruses and diseases.
If a crime scene cleanup company is exposed to all these dangers when completing a crime scene cleanup, civilians are also at the same risk. However, unlike a professional crime scene cleaner, civilians do not have the proper training, chemicals, or tools for the job.
Ensure Safe Disposal of Biohazards
Crime scene cleaning is not like any other cleaning. Crime scene cleanup companies train their employees on how to properly dispose of blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids. The simple fact is these things do not get thrown out like weekly garbage.
Additionally, crime scene cleaners are trained to clean in a way that minimizes the risk of cross-contamination. They can safely clean and disinfect the crime scene in a way that does not endanger humans or animals that come in contact in the future.
Reach Out to HCI Environmental to Learn More About Crime Scene Cleanup Companies Near You!
If you were looking for a crime scene cleaning company in California, look no further! At HCI Environmental, we specialize in a variety of services, including biohazard waste and crime scene cleanup. We don’t cut corners when it comes to the safety of our staff and our clients. This is why our staff is trained in the proper use and protocols of crime scene cleanup. Our team is fully certified and experienced in dealing with crime scene cleaning and biohazard waste services throughout California.
Contact us today if your home or business has been affected by a violent crime and you need an accredited professional to handle the restoration process safely and effectively. We know how difficult crime scene cleanup can be. Let us take some stress off your shoulders and do it for you. Call today to find out how we can help you take care of your crime scene cleanup and biohazard waste.