Who Chooses The Restoration Company?

Question: When dealing with Property Damage due to Biohazards (blood, feces, bodily fluids), Water Damage, Fire, or Mold, who gets to hire the restoration company? Does the insurance choose or does the insured?

Answer:  The insured!!!

Everything to Know About Property Claims and Hiring the Remediation Company

When making a claim most property owners are already feeling overwhelmed. Opening a claim means there has been a loss, and whether it is property damage due to a fire, water, or biological hazards, this is already a trying time without having to then navigate the claims process vetting vendors.

Calling the insurance company can be daunting, and when the call is made there will be a multitude of questions, including the very pressing: “Which restoration company are you going to hire?”

Who gets to decide? What does “Preferred Vendors” mean? Who are preferred vendors”?

Typically, the insurance claims adjuster will confirm coverage for some or all of the loss. Then, he or she may make a suggestion “We have a list of Preferred (referred) Vendors in your area that we recommend you choose from. All are reliable and provide quality service. You can also choose a contractor of your choice. However, by choosing one of our referred Vendors we can guarantee the work and arrange repairs if the work is not completed properly for any reason.”

Why? 

The insurance company’s main goal is to reduce their expenses on a claim. Referred vendors are companies that have agreed to set prices by the insurance company in exchange for steady referrals (work) at a reduced cost. The insurance company’s goal is to save money by paying less for repair work.

This arrangement works at first for the vendors because they will receive steady referrals, and works well for the insurance company because they can reduce their claims payout. Insurance companies save money on tear out, repair or replacement. Often preferred vendors are set up through third-party providers (brokers), who oversee the scope of repairs and determine the pricing which frees the adjustor to focus on other areas of their contracts.

Another foreseeable issue with this set up is the actual scope of repairs. When hiring an independent restoration company, a qualified individual thoroughly inspects the property, completes a through assessment, and then determines the scope of work needed to return the property to a pre-loss condition.

If using a referred Vendor, the insurance company (or their third-party provider) determines the scope of work. This is determined by a pre-set formula as to how much equipment and how many days they will “allow” on the project. Typically this could be less than what may actually be required, especially, as experience dictates, what is seen upfront may be underestimated once the walls are opened or flooring is removed. Biohazards can be far reaching, and only an ethical mitigation expert that is not bound by price restrictions should be assessing the property’s actual needs.

Referred vendors are not in a position to challenge the insurance adjustor’s assessment regarding repairs, even in the event that there is a discrepancy. Despite what the company has been trained and certified to do, the referred Vendor may lose their contract status if they do not abide by the decisions of the insurance company.

Focusing on COST over QUALITY is by far the quickest way to create a larger problem on the property. With regards to restoration work, choosing strictly on price will generally mean subpar remediation efforts. In order to maintain profits, yet maintain the low cost required by insurance companies, Preferred Vendors must cut corners elsewhere.  Whether it be a rushed dry out with less equipment, or lower paid technicians with less training, guaranteed there will be a sacrifice somewhere.

In some cases, Biohazards (sewage, blood, or bodily fluids), Mold, Lead and/or Asbestos may not be properly addressed.  There are higher costs for materials and time involved in following industry-standard procedures.  Biohazard cleanup for instance is a high risk cleanup that exposes the home owner and technicians to potential pathogens. In California there are a multitude of certification bodies that oversee the proper handling, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. Carrying the proper licenses, liability insurance limits, and certified technicians is not cheap. At the very least a restoration company should be able to produce a medical waste disposal contract and hazardous waste transporting paperwork to show that the waste was appropriately transported to a medical waste or hazardous waste treatment facility. In order to legally clean crime scenes, the company MUST be a registered hauler (meeting all insurance and training requirements) and be certified by the state.  If the company cannot produce these documents, they are not likely able to certify that the space has been legitimately and safely remediated from a crime scene. Often in order to cut costs, the visible biological matter is removed, when actually, flooring or baseboards needs to be removed and thorough testing procedures to ensure adequate remediation is complete.

Finally, often, referred Vendors agree to pay a referral or “lead fee” for the jobs referred to them by the contracted insurance company. Unfortunately, this reduces already slim profit margins which in turn leads to cutting corners on product, equipment use, or labor. If the restoration company continues with these margins, they either go out of business, or remove themselves as a referred Vendor.  This seems to be one of the major reasons for turnover of contractors on the Preferred Vendors list.

BOTTOM LINE: THE INSURED GETS to determine which company TO HIRE!

The BIOClean Team is a vendor for major cities, property management companies, and has worked on countless insurance claims as an independent vendor.  After years of experience, the owner, Stacy Houston, understands liability.  Not only has she fleshed out legal and ethical teachings in the hospital setting while onboarding teams and debriefing, but on the restoration side, she is methodical about documentation and compliance.

The BIOClean Team philosophy is to have total control over the scope of repairs. For that reason, they handle every restoration project correctly, according to industry standards, and do not cut corners.

The process:

  • The BIOClean Team technician will do a through assessment of the scope of repairs and open a claim with the adjustor should the insured wish to move forward.
  • The work is thoroughly documented from the moment the call is received, and throughout the entire project.
  • Photos are included them with the scope of repairs submitted to the insurance company while invoices are calculated using Xactimate software numbers (the software most adjustors prefer). The BIOClean Team has never had a covered loss claim denied.
  • In some instances, The BIOClean Team has provided GoPro Videos to further document the project.  This is appreciated, especially when a field adjuster is not immediately available, or the interior of the dwelling is considered a hazard to enter. (Tear gas, crime scenes, extreme gross filth, extreme hoarding, or category 3 sewage leaks)

Hopefully, you will never need the services of a bioremediation specialist, but if you ever do, we encourage you to consider this information carefully. We can even file your claim for you and submit directly to your adjustor. If you do need to call the insurance company, go ahead and say: “I need to start a claim… And I’ve chosen The BIOClean Team as my remediation company.”

Is Blood a Biohazard? And Other BIOClean FAQs

Welcome back to the BIOClean Team blog. This month we’ve been talking about blood clean up and how to determine if you need to call a professional or not (hint: for small cuts on tile, you’re probably safe to do it yourself, much bigger than that and you’ll want to call us). That leads us to a question we have seen asked a few times: is blood a biohazard? This time on the blog we’re going to answer that as well as several other questions we see crop up frequently! It may be summer, but school is in session!

BIOClean Team FAQs – Is Blood a Biohazard And More

Is Blood a Biohazard

Yes! Blood can certainly be a biohazard as it can contain infectious agents. Find out more about what makes biohazards.

What If Its Dry?

Just because blood is seemingly dry doesn’t mean it is safe. Despite appearing dry, infectious diseases and bacteria can still be alive and dangerous. And in the business of biohazards, it’s better safe than sorry!

How Do I Clean Up Blood?

If it’s a large amount, or on an absorbent surface like carpet or furniture, your best bet is to hire professionals.

Who Removes Bodies from Homes?

Depending on the cause of death, one of two types of people will collect a body from the home. If a death occurred following natural causes, typically a funeral home of the family’s choice will send out someone to collect the body and prepare it for burial.

Who Cleans Up a Crime Scene?

That’d be us! Following a crime the police will come gather evidence, EMS leave, and a coroner may collect a body, but all the damage and mess is left to the family/home owners to take care of. To get a clean up done right, they call in professional cleaning crews who are certified to handle biohazards.

Who Pays for Crime Scene Cleanup?

No one expects a crime and the costly damages it can bring into our lives. Fortunately for those who need our expertise, most crime scene clean up services are covered by insurance. This means there are no out of pocket costs to have the crime scene cleaned (in most cases) and the cost should never be a barrier to getting your life back on track following a crime.

How to Become a Crime Scene Cleaner?

Well, there’s no one path to crime scene cleaner. Just take a look at our team and you will see a range of skills on display. Stacy Houston, our owner, has over ten years of experience in Emergency Medicine before moving into the crime scene cleaning biz! Aside from the certifications required, those ten years also gave her the experience in speaking with and guiding clients who have experienced a trauma. Not every business has that bedside manner! No matter what path you take, there are a few core certifications that just about every crime scene cleaner need. Everyone on the BIOClean Team is an OSHA Certified Technician, as well as being certified to handle blood borne pathogens, amongst others for instance.

What All Goes into Crime Scene Clean Up?

To answer this briefly: a whole heckuva lot! Crime scene clean up is a mix of professional heavy-duty cleaning services, construction and demolition work all wrapped up into one.  Depending on the type of situation we are handling it could mean anything from simply hauling out garbage to tearing up floor, walls, foundation and more to remove all traces of potential problems including biohazards and lingering smells. No two jobs are the same!

Whatever your questions, The BIOClean Team is here to help. If you didn’t find your answer here keep your eyes peeled on the blog as we are always adding more, or give us a call and find out exactly how we can help you clean up the aftermath of a crime, death, or hoarding behavior.

TRAUMATIC ACCIDENTS: BLOOD CLEANUP

Traumatic Incidents can happen anytime, even to the most attentive. If part of a traumatic incident, whether it be in your residence, place of business, or at a mass trauma scene, there are a few things to be aware of for the most positive outcome in a blood cleanup scenario.

First, and foremost, the attention should be to the safety of yourself and those affected by the incident. Is the scene safe for you to enter? If machinery or electricity is involved is the power shut down? Simultaneously the emergency response system should be activated, whether the charge person on site is handling the call or directs another individual to do so, it should be established that professional help is on the way.

After the injured are appropriately tended, transported to the appropriate facilities, and it has been established that the incident is no longer in “crisis” mode, it is time to survey the scene for damages.

Often in a traumatic incident, or mass casualty situation, there is a significant amount of hazardous cleanup. There may be skin, blood, soiled clothing, feces, damaged machine parts, or blood saturated items that need to be addressed.

Often the property owner is left to determine the best course of action for cleanup, and it is overwhelming and daunting to know where to begin. Undoubtedly it is best to consider hiring a professional blood cleanup company. Here are a few things you should know before attempting to clean up blood or other infectious waste:

BLOOD IS INFECTIOUS (it can carry diseases)bioclean blood cleanup

Blood is a vector for pathogens such as Hepatitis, HIV, and other pathogens. Blood-borne viruses can live in blood for multiple days. For instance, Hepatitis B virus can live in blood for up to one week. These and other viruses can remain active and present on surfaces long after visible blood or bio is gone. Surfaces contaminated with blood or other body fluids should be thoroughly disinfected and tested by a qualified biohazard company.

 

Typical household cleaners cannot fully disinfect nor protect from all blood borne pathogens.

Additionally, the injured parties or parties may not know their medical status, nor would it be prudent to investigate such. It is important to remain sensitive to the person who was injured. Rather than asking after someone’s medical status, contact a professional biohazard cleanup service right away.

HOUSEKEEPERS (OR CARPET CLEANERS) AREN’T ABLE TO CLEAN THAT!

House cleaners may know how to get out stains and deep clean a traditional residence, but cleaning up infectious waste such as blood or bodily fluids takes specialized training in decontamination techniques, cross contamination, and personal protective equipment donning. Improper cleaning can compromise site safety and potential inhabitants at future risk. Household cleaners are not trained in the proper remediation or decontamination techniques. In fact, a common misconception is that bleach will remove blood stains. Chlorine bleach can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, but the biggest danger is when mixed with other household cleaners such as ammonias which can bring it to toxic levels. Bleach is not only dangerous, but it has the ability to destroy carpet, furnishings, and other surfaces causing more extensive damage than necessary.

The BIOClean Team technicians uses EPA registered hospital grade disinfectant, and two other disinfectant chemicals prior to environmental  testing to ensure all blood pathogens have been eliminated.

Carpet cleaners may know how to steam clean a carpet, but there is a significant difference when cleaning infectious blood or bodily fluids from carpet. The EPA regulates the industry and has concluded that there is NO cleaner on the market suitable to extract infectious waste (blood or bodily fluids) from a prous surface such as carpet, couches, or soft surface furniture. This means steam cleaning / carpet cleaning will NOT remove the biohazard effectively. Often the fluid seeps into the carpet, and pad, and creates a larger area beneath. Attempts at carpet cleaning can not only leave behind unseen pathogens, but can also contaminate cleaning equipment which leads to cross contamination.

CORRECT BIOHAZARD DISPOSAL IS THE LAW

Blood and bodily fluids are considered infectious or medical waste. Not only are specific certifications needed for handling or cleaning infectious waste, but removal, transport, and disposal all needs proper licensing, certifications, and the appropriate disposal facility. Biohazard cleaning companies such as The BIOClean Team are licensed, insured, and certified to clean, handle, transport, and dispose of infectious and medical waste. The BIOClean Team has holds contracts with several waste disposal facilities in order to uphold the highest standards in ethical disposal of blood and other biohazardous waste.

After the incident: HOW to begin moving forward?

Traumatic accident scenes can be distressing. It is not easy to watch a horrific scene play out, with injuries, and know exactly when or how to move forward from the incident. Besides the obvious physical injuries to loved ones, and the remaining damage to property, there can be emotional scars that have yet to be explored. The goal of The BIOClean Team is to assist in any way to decrease the stress from these types of situations. Rest easy knowing a highly trained professional company exists to get the property back to pre-incident condition as soon as possible. Cleaning a gruesome traumatic accident scene should be avoided to decrease any further trauma to the friends or family members.

Various assistive resources which includes victims assistance compensation funds information, support groups, and help lines for continuing support after the fact.

PROFESSIONAL BIOHAZARD CLEANUP 24/7

Many of the most serious health hazards are microbial, meaning they are invisible to the naked eye. Stacy Houston, founder and owner of The BIOClean Team, A Crime Scene Cleaning Company, is well versed in pathogen decontamination. She has over ten years experience in infection control and pathogen decontamination, as well as personal protective equipment donning for reduction in cross contamination and exposure. Technicians are trained within the same guidelines as hospital staff and have continuous training and certifications. Cleaning the visible biological matter from surfaces is just the first step in decontamination. Vast experience of how blood behaves is needed to chase all potential sources of contamination to fully rid the scene of potentially harmful pathogens. The BIOClean Team has this knowledge with thousands of scenes remediated.

Contact The BIOClean Team 24/7 for professional trauma cleaning services.

Who Cleans Up Crime Scenes? The BIOClean Team!

Crime is never a pleasant experience, and certainly rarely simple and clean. The effects linger. After the police, investigators, and anyone else have walked amongst the debris, it remains. Broken glass, doors, blood, and who knows what else. The havoc crime wreaks as it stampedes through our daily lives can be overwhelming, and oftentimes traumatic, to have to clean up ourselves. So who do people turn to? Who can help them in this precarious moment? Who cleans up crime scenes?

Who Cleans Up Crime Scenes?

As we already mentioned, the usual suspects on the scene don’t clean up after crimes. Police and investigators come in, document and collect the evidence as needed, fire and emergency services get in and do what must be done. Afterward, it was usually left up to the victim to clean up. Nowadays that doesn’t have to be the case, with companies like The BIOClean Team coming in and helping victims of crimes get their lives back in order.

The job can be intense. Cleaning up hazardous materials safely requires an amount of experience, knowledge, and proper equipment that most don’t have on hand. It can also be emotionally taxing for those who are faint of heart and sometimes requires an iron gut.

What They Clean

‘Crime scene cleanup’ covers a lot of ground. The aforementioned glass, debris, blood, bodily fluids, and other potentially biohazardous materials. Meth labs, animal hoarding sites, tear-gas clean up, all can require serious cleanup processes before the buildings become safely habitable again. Anything that is left in the wake of a crime will be attended to when you hire a trusted crime scene cleanup company.

And yes, they also clean up following a death. It bears mentioning, not all deaths are because of a crime, but depending on the state, cause, and level of decomposition, hiring a professional who cleans up crime scenes as well can help you be sure you are getting the best, comprehensive service available.

How They Do It

Crime scene cleaners will use a wide range of equipment and tools to ensure that they leave the scene clean. Things like:

  •        Protective Gear- one-time use suits, respirators, gloves, chemical spill boots
  •        Traditional cleaning supplies like mops, buckets, sponges, brushes, etc.
  •        Hospital grade disinfectants, deodorizers, and solvents
  •        Chemical foggers
  •        Shovels, sledgehammers, saws
  •        Razor blades, putty knives
  •        Sprayers, scrubbing brushes, wet vacuums.

All of these different tools, from the general household mops to the industrial grade cleaners to the construction site standards all see use depending on the job. For crime scenes that involve blood, body fluids, it goes beyond simple cosmetic cleanings. Each particle has a chance to spread infectious diseases and so the cleaning can go deeper than you might expect. A small spot of blood on the carpet can require the whole floor to be stripped down, as blood can seep through the carpet, then spread in the foam padding below.

Who Cleans Up Crime Scenes

The job is equal parts cleaner, waste management, and construction. In addition to being able to handle these duties, a prospective crime scene cleaner also needs to walk the line between detachment and sympathy.

Workers in the field find that having a level of detachment keeps them from feeling too affected by the process, which can in turn negatively affect the work. And yet, a level of sympathy is required as you are stepping into another person’s life at one of the lowest moments and helping them put it back together. A sympathetic, sensitive approach can help put the client at ease.

Do you know what a crime scene cleaner doesn’t need? A college degree! This is a field where the experience, training, and the right attitude is enough to do the job correctly and succeed! Crime scene cleaners will receive OSHA certification, become trained to meet IICRC standards and more. The BIOClean Team ourselves adhere to OSHA, EPA, and the California Department of Public Health

Should you ever find yourself the victim of a crime and need help putting things back in order – don’t hesitate to call The BIOClean Team. We are a professional team, led by a nurse with over 10 years of experience. That bedside manner is brought to bear here. When dealing with the fallout of a horrible event, the last thing on your mind should be needing to clean, call us and let us help!

BIOClean Team How To: Hoarder Cleanup

Dealing with a home or apartment that has succumbed to immense clutter can be challenging on many levels. Typically there are various compounding reasons that led to the point that space presents as now. Unraveling these issues is a complex process if the resident is to remain in the home. If however, the property has been found as such after the passing of a loved one, or perhaps moving the individual to assisted living, the path to removal is simply forward moving.

If the goal of all involved is the residence to be remediated to a habitable condition either for the resident’s return, resale, or rental of the space, the following steps should be considered. Knowing where to start cleaning in a home that’s packed with clutter is overwhelming. These steps will help take control of the situation, sort through items in a hoarder’s home, and clean and sanitize it so that it is safe to live in again.

Strategize (Evaluation of Space):

Residents of hoarding situations (hoarders) are unable to distinguish valuable items from those that would be considered non-salvageable or debris. Items tend to accumulate quickly and are dependent on the person’s fixation. For instance, one home The BIOClean Team technicians remediated recently was filled with over three thousand Hallmark Ornaments new in boxes. The resident was able to part with all refuse in the home (food waste, empty boxes, common trash), but was unable to part with a single in box ornament. Each “valuable ornament” was carefully stored in a plastic bin for the client. The organized bins ended up taking up two full bedrooms of space. Although organized and decontaminated, the space is still full and not fully functional. In this case, a professional mental health evaluation and counseling are needed to further assist in the “letting go” of items.

In most cases, because the items are left unsorted the space quickly becomes filled with piles of belongings, hoarded items of “value”, common trash, debris, boxes, and mail. These items quickly pile up and block access to areas of the home. The piles then begin to harbor dust, mold, insects, and vermin, making living conditions unhealthy. Fire hazards in hoarder homes are extremely high due to loose debris, flammable materials, and blocked egress.

Once the space has been evaluated for hazards and a clear path of egress has been determined it is time to create a de-cluttering strategy.  If the resident plans to remain living in the space make sure to work with him or her on their expectations, and set up a plan moving forward for how to maintain a safe environment. Often times a mental health professional is needed to avoid falling back into the patterns of hoarding items, even after a space has been remediated.

It is usually safest to strategize a cleanout from exterior inwards. This will avoid the pitfalls of working over large piles, or cross-contamination of biological items if drug through and over piles in rooms. It is also dangerous to carry items without a clear path of egress, and heavy lifting can be strenuous.

Once the de-cluttering plan is in place, develop a cleaning strategy to address the underlying issues of contamination from the microbial pathogens that are undoubtedly covering every surface, and within the piles of garbage due to excessive dust, insects, animals, or vermin. Sometimes the resident has medical issues or incontinent issues and fecal matter or soiled diapers are found amongst the refuse.

Over the counter cleaning products do not decontaminate biological matter, so if the house is truly a gross filth situation it is best to consult biological cleaning specialists for a true breakdown of the supplies needed.

Furthermore, because it’s impossible to know exactly what is in the refuse the cleanup crew must be prepared for anything. With any cleanup of this nature, personal protection gear must be considered.  Disposable gloves, N95 masks, and coveralls are recommended to protect from microbes and pathogens that are growing in such an environment. Sturdy shoes, hardhats, and work gloves are also recommended in case of needles, sharps, or other dangerous items located within the trash. There may be broken glass, open can lids, insects that start biting when disturbed, or flammable materials. It is advisable to carry insect spray and a fire extinguisher in case of unforeseen emergencies.

If biohazardous materials are encountered, (blood, feces, needles, or animal remains) call a professional biological restoration company immediately. These materials can’t be legally discarded in household trash.

A detailed evaluation includes: a de-cluttering strategy, a cleaning plan which involves what kind of supplies and equipment will be needed, and an evaluation of how much time this project might take.

Typically once the project is assessed and understood, the task of cleaning out years of clutter becomes extremely overwhelming and emotionally exhausting for family members. In this case, getting help from a professional company that specializes in hoarding and biological decontamination is often the fastest and safest route.

2. Execute the Plan

After strategizing, the hoarder cleanup it’s time to execute.

hoarder cleanup staging area

Collect plenty of cleaning supplies:

A project of this size will require a great deal of cleaning supplies. Those in charge of cleaning will want to make sure everything is on hand so that unnecessary trips to the store do not delay the cleaning.

These items are necessary when cleaning a hoarding situation:

  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Empty boxes or bins if organizing
  • Buckets and mops
  • All-purpose cleansers/disinfectants
  • Sponges/wipes/cleaning cloths
  • Broom/dustpan
  • Vacuum cleaner and extra bags if necessary (shopvac is best)
  • Step ladder
  • Tall ladder
  • Wide Shovel
  • A set of hand tools

A roll-off dumpster is usually necessary to hold all the discarded items that would overwhelm trash receptacles on site. The sanitation department assigned to the city should be available for information on rates, as well as pickup and delivery information. A staging area exterior to the space is important to set up in order to sort through items. If the project will be more than one day a covered area may be necessary.

Front to Back & Top to Bottom:

It’s difficult to know where to begin, so start from the front door and move inward. Although it may feel like little progress in such a large space, this is the safest way to avoid climbing over unstable piles. Once a room has been cleaned and sanitized, there’s a sense of accomplishment and motivation to do more.

It’s best to take a methodical approach to cleaning in situations like this. Remove everything from rooms, top to bottom, including furniture if possible. It’s easier to thoroughly clean when there are fewer items in a room. Go through drawers, closets, purses, and clothing pockets to ensure that no valuables have been left behind. Check local ordinances on disposing items like paint, medications, and other items that can’t be discarded in household trash.

Again, if biohazardous materials are encountered, (blood, feces, needles, or animal remains) call a professional biological restoration company immediately. These materials can’t be legally discarded in household trash.

Salvageable Items:

Sort through items after they’ve been removed from a room to determine if they should be discarded, kept, donated, or recycled. Some charities can pick up donations if arrangements are made in advance. Items that are being kept need to be cleaned and checked for damage or contamination. Items that are being removed from the home should be removed & discarded promptly before the individual can have a change of heart.

hoarder cleanup

Gross Filth Remediation & Repairs:

Once the home is free of clutter, it can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Depending on the extent of the hoarding, this may take some time, and if the process has become too overwhelming, or gross biological contaminants have been discovered, it’s time to call the biological remediation experts. Often mold, sewage, black water leaks, or carcasses are found beneath the clutter which must be remediated by a certified specialist.

This is also the time to examine the building for any necessary repairs, such as cracked drywall or warped floors. These repairs should be made before furniture and other items are returned.

Professional Hoarding Cleanup Services

If you need hoarding cleanup services in the Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, or Palm Springs are, area, or anywhere in southern California, call the caring professionals at The BIOClean Team. Our technicians have the training and experience to manage hoarding situations of any size. We work with residents, family, property managers, and owners to develop a comprehensive strategy that assists the total remediation of the property to habitable, safe, rentable or sellable condition.

What is a Biohazard Anyway?

One of the great services The BIOClean Team offers our clients is handling biohazardous waste disposal. We get plenty of calls from folks who call for help and don’t realize that that’s what they need! Turns out most people who don’t work in full hazmat suits are a little unsure about the whole biohazard thing. Makes sense. So, this time on the blog we decided to answer that question. So, just what is a biohazard anyway?

What is a Biohazard

Biohazard, a shortened form of biological hazard, is any biological substance that can be a threat to the health of living things, primarily that of humans. It is sometimes called ‘infectious waste.’ Okay, now that we got the whole definition thing out of the way let’s get deeper.

Biohazards can take any number of different forms from a virus, toxin, or tiny organism that when came into contact with would cause adverse health conditions.

What is considered biohazard waste?

Biohazard waste is any waste that has come into contact with those biological substances. Some examples of the most common biohazards, especially the ones we deal with are:

  • Human blood and blood products in liquid or semi-liquid form and everything saturated with it.
  • Human body fluids: Semen, cerebral spinal fluid, amniotic fluid, synovial fluid, pericardial fluid, saliva etc.
  • Pathological waste: human tissue, organs, and body parts.
  • Microbiological waste: laboratory waste such as discarded specimen cultures, blood and body fluids in lab containers, results of cultures, etc.
  • Animal Waste: carcasses, body parts, and any bedding materials
  • Sharps waste: Medical needles, syringes, and lancets.

Not All Biohazards are Equal

According to the CDC, there are four levels of biohazard, based on the risk and severity of the disease/illness that can be transmitted.

Biohazard Level 1

Bacteria and viruses that cause chicken pox, E. coli, or Bacillus subtilis belong to level 1.  These possess a small risk and the level of precautions needed to prevent it are likewise minimal, gloves and a face mask of some sort.

Biohazard Level 2

Level 2 encompasses two different groups of bacteria/viruses, anything that causes only a mild disease or is difficult to contract in the air. Things like influenza, Lyme disease, hepatitis A, B, and C, scrapie, dengue fever and more.

Biohazard Level 3

Diseases and viruses that can cause severe, even fatal diseases, but for which treatments do exist. This means things like anthrax, SARS, MERS, West Nile virus, the list goes on.

Biohazard Level 4

As you might have guessed, this where things get serious. Biohazard level 4 are any viruses that cause serious or fatal diseases in people, and for which there does not exist a cure or treatment. Ebola, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus. The precautions to take when dealing with biohazard level 4s mandate a clean lab, multiple showers, vacuum room, segregated air supply, pressure suits. When you think of biohazards in movies like Outbreak (1995) you’re thinking of a level 4 situation.

So, what is a biohazard?

It’s a potential health concern that needs to be addressed, that’s what! And the sooner the better! But don’t just grab yourself some plastic gloves and a trash bag and get started, you might only put yourself at further risk.

Why you need to hire a professional?what is a biohazard and why you need to hire a professional

If you suspect you have biohazardous waste on your hands, you need to call in professionals like us here at The BIOClean Team. We have the training, the skills, and the professional grade equipment necessary to handle the contaminated waste to ensure not just our health and safety but also yours. You can be certain that when the job is done there is no lingering health concerns, no potential biohazard left to grow and cause any issues.

It’s not about business hours, it’s about safety! That’s why in case of emergencies we are available 24/7, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and make the call. The BIOClean Team will come out and do the work professionally, up to industry, state, and health standards and regulations. Cleaning, disinfecting, eliminating any odors and disposing of the biohazardous waste as it should be done, period.

Sewage Backup Cleanup and What Water to Worry About

Although any water leak can be exponentially damaging to surrounding property, water from sewer system backups should be considered especially dangerous.  This type of contaminated water is a haven for pathogens that can cause serious illness. The most common pathogen found in wastewater is Salmonella. However, there are many other viruses and bacteria harmful to human health, such as E. coli, Pseudomonas, Shigella, Vibrio, Mycobacterium, Clostridium, Leptospira, Yersinia, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, intestinal worms, Norwalk virus, and rotavirus, to name a few. Overflow and sewage backup cleanup requires special training and equipment to properly clean this type of contamination to a level of habitability.

Types of Water in Overflow and Sewage Backup Cleanup

There are a few different classifications of a water leak or water intrusion: clean water, gray water, and black water. The BIOClean Team technicians inspect the water leak and associated damage to determine the type of water and appropriate response. Often times “clean water” can degrade rapidly and turn into gray or black water. The technicians treat all spills as potentially hazardous and follow all EPA and OSHA guidelines within the cleanup to safely restore the residential or commercial property.

Category 1: “Clean Water”

This is water from a clean source, such as a broken clean water supply line or faucet. If left untreated, category 1 water can quickly degrade into category 2 or 3 water depending upon such factors as time, temperature, and contact with contaminants. For instance, a decomposing body in overflowing faucet (think shower, tub, or sink) water will turn the clean water to a category three (black water). This was a true case the technicians responded to, in which a woman had passed away in her kitchen with faucet on. She lay undiscovered for three weeks, and the sink had overflowed creating a flood which cascading into the empty unit below, only to be discovered by new occupants weeks later. The subsequent damage was to the unit upstairs, the unit below, all walls, beams, ceilings, and floors saturated with a degraded category three water, which, if not for the contaminant of the decomposing body sitting in the water overflow would have been “clean water” as it derived initially from the faucet and plugged sink.

Category 2: “Gray Water”

This water has a significant level of contamination that could cause discomfort or illness if ingested. Sources for category 2 water may include washing machine overflow; toilet overflow with some urine, but no feces; or dishwasher overflow. Gray water typically contains viruses and/ or bacteria and can quickly degrade into category 3 or “black water” if left untreated.

Technicians will treat this type of cleanup as if it is a category 3 in order to fully decontaminate any pathogens that may be present. The BIOClean Team certified technicians don full personal protective equipment and comply with OSHA, EPA, and IICRC WRT guidelines.

Category 3: “Black Water”

gear used, overflow sewage backup cleanup
Containment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Black water is wastewater loaded with biological material such as feces, grease, or hazardous chemicals. This water is grossly unsanitary and could cause severe illness or death if ingested. Any contact should be avoided unless by trained technicians donning appropriate PPE. Sources for category 3 water could include flooding from rivers or streams, water from beyond the toilet trap, water from the toilet bowl with feces, water contaminated with feces or bodily fluids such as blood or decomposition fluids, or standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.

24 Emergency Service

Gray water and black water such as sewage backups, unattended leaks, backups, or overflows should be considered an emergency and dealt with as quickly as possible. The BIOClean Team technicians are highly trained water damage restoration specialists with the expertise needed to safely restore your home or business. Give us a call and we can get started restoring your home or business to habitable conditions immediately!

The company owner has an extensive background in microbiology, hazmat, and decontamination within both residential, commercial, and hospital settings.

Crime Scene & Biohazard Cleanup: Tear Gas Removal

When it comes to crime scene cleanup in Los Angeles and Southern California, tear gas cleanups can be some of the most complex situations. The property damage resulting from tear gas can pose a structural maintenance nightmare, second only to drug lab remediation and large-scale abatements such as animal hoarding cleanups.pink stain on ceiling

As crime scene cleanup specialists, we’ve handled our fair share of tear gas cleanups, and it might surprise you to learn just how important is it to hire qualified professionals for the job. Not only is tear gas dangerous for the crew members involved, the complexity of completely eliminating gas residue makes it unusually challenging to remove and is best left to the hazmat experts.

Tear gas is a mucous membrane irritant. It typically is used to subdue subjects by law enforcement, or as a deterrent from attack. Tear gas can be defined by several irritants, including:
• Chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS)
• Chloroacetophenone (CN)
• Dibenzoxazepine (CR)
• Oleoresin Capsicum (OC or pepper spray)

pink stains in ceiling and wallMany people do not realize that the irritants in tear gas can linger long after the canisters are discharged and the subjects have been cleared from the property. Tear gas residue can seep into furniture, carpet and even hardwood floors. Tear gas also spreads through ventilation systems. It can continue to irritate the mucous membranes of anyone residing in or visiting the property long after the initial incident.

Why Is Tear Gas So Destructive To Property?

A tear gas intrusion scene often presents with damaged walls and doors as well as broken windows secondary to forced entry by law enforcement officials. Tear gas canisters often are shot into an enclosed space to subdue a subject, which leads to drywall penetration in both ceilings and walls.

Tear gas residue may contain dyes that stain surfaces such as walls, ceilings and carpeting. Tear gas also leaves a thick harmful residue that easily can reconvert back to a toxic gas which irritates mucous membranes and can cause vomiting. In the worst cases, it even can lead to pulmonary edema or death.broken window

Cleaning up this residue is a labor-intensive process requiring the expertise of hazmat cleanup experts with proper equipment and techniques.

When tear gas is used, canisters are shot from launchers that heat the canisters prior to release to help disperse the gas more effectively. The particles are heavy so they settle eventually, but can move from powder to gas state with heat and water, which makes recontamination very likely with an untrained crime scene cleanup crew.

Law enforcement officials normally use several canisters within a structure in order to subdue a subject or secure a scene. In fact, we have seen incidents where up to a few hundred canisters were used.

Besides the forced entry of breaking down doors or windows, the heavy canisters are often shot into an enclosed space, which leads to significant property damage. Canisters can penetrate walls, ceilings, break mirrors and smash electronics. If there is an intrusion in the drywall, which is common, the residue will adhere inside the walls and coat the studs. Canisters may break through the ceiling and disperse gas in the attic contaminating insulation and exposed beams. This absolutely needs to be addressed by a qualified tear gas cleaning company.

man entering the room to cleanup tear gas

 

How Does The Process Work?

City officials, law enforcement and insurance adjustors have come to trust The BioClean Team for the most challenging tear gas cleanups. A team ca

n be mobilized for a no-cost and no-obligation estimate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Upon arrival, the estimator will inspect for the following:
• Site safety and containment needs (barrier set up, HVAC, worker and crew safety)
• If any biological material, such as blood and other body fluids is present that could create a biohazard (If there are biohazards, those must first be remediated to prevent further damage from decomposition or viral exposure.)
• How much tear gas residue is present
• If any drywall was punctured by the canisters, leaving the interior wall studs exposed to residue
• If any dyes were incorporated into the gas, which will require additional cleaning measures.
• Obtain photographs for case documentation

Upon approval, technicians will put on OSHA-approved personal protective equipment and set up containment barriers to avoid cross-contamination and further property damage to surrounding businesses or structures.broken window

The technicians then will begin the cleanup process using expert containment, removal and cleaning techniques to carefully and thoroughly wash affected areas, remove affected items and avoid cross-contamination.

How Do You Train Your Technicians?

Aside from the on-site cleanup scenarios that The BioClean Team technicians go through on a daily basis, we have weekly training on hazmat cleanups, containment protocols and control procedures. Technicians are trained and retrained in donning U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-approved encapsulated suits and respirators. Supervisors are onsite at all times to re-enforce containment and cleaning techniques.

All of our technicians are in-house, not subcontractors or workers we have not fully trained nor vetted. Not only does this ensure that all cleanups are thorough, safe and adhering to regulatory guidelines, it keeps the cost down for the customer by avoiding an unnecessarily lengthy cleanup by cross-contamination. Additionally, our owner, a registered nurse, has more than 10 years of experience in biological isolation techniques and hazmat containment.the BIOclean team

The BioClean Team works with law enforcement and city abatement officials to remediate both residential and commercial spaces in a safe, efficient and timely manner to mitigate further property damages and to get your space habitable and profitable for you or your business immediately.

The BioClean Team is dedicated to maintaining the highest industry standards while providing professional and compassionate services to those we serve. Whether you need tear gas cleanup, biohazard cleanup or crime scene cleanup in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California, you can contact The BioClean Team 24/7/365 for a free cost estimate.

Proper Biohazard Cleanup: Don’t Risk OSHA Violations

If you need any type of biohazard cleanup in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Diego counties, it is crucial that you use an OSHA-certified cleanup team.

Did you know that it is a violation for employers to expose their employees to blood-borne pathogens? Exposure to blood-borne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses.

OSHA Badge

OSHA states that violations in which an employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety is considered a willful violation.

Without proper protective equipment, training and an employer safety plan in place, it is a violation of OSHA regulations to place your employees in these types of cleanup situations:

• Blood cleanup or handlingrecommended practices for safety and health programs• Feces or Urine cleanup or handling
• Needles or Sharps cleanups or disposal or handling
• ANY bodily fluids cleanup or handling
While it might seem easier to allow employees, such as your janitorial staff, to handle the cleanup, these individuals lack the training necessary to fully ensure that the area is remediated properly. It’s also highly unlikely that your team has the necessary gear, including respirators, gloves, protective coveralls and so forth.

Additionally, the typical products used for cleaning by your janitorial staff are not adequate for biohazard cleanup. The BioClean Team uses a three-tiered chemical system for biohazard cleanup that kills gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

This includes bacteria such as Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin Resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and E. coli. Our virucidal agent works against Influenza A, H1N1 Influenza A, Influenza A Avian virus, HIV, Rhinovirus type 37 and is a fungicidal against Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Aspregillus niger and Canada albicans.

Of course violating OSHA regulations is directly related to your employees’ safety, and these violations also can cost your company a lot of money in fines, potential law suits, and lost work time for workplace injuries related to violations.

While keeping employees safe definitely should be the main consideration, there’s no getting around the fact that violating OSHA regulations can be quite costly for companies. For instance, if any employees are injured due to violations, this costs the company lost work time.

If law suits are filed due to violations, the results of these lawsuits also can be quite expensive. Furthermore, OSHA fines companies that aren’t in compliance with safety regulations, and these fines can be higher than you might think. In fact, OSHA increased fines in 2017, here’s a quick look at what you might face:

• $12,675 maximum penalty per violation of serious or other-than-serious posting requirements
• $12,675 maximum penalty per day for failure to abate, or failure to fix or improve, beyond the initial abatement date
• $126,749 maximum penalty for willful or repeat violations

man cleaning up the big garbage binJust recently OSHA fined the United States Postal Service $342,000 after inspectors found workers repeatedly were exposed to packages labeled as biohazards without safety standards in practice, OSHA certifications, and the proper documentation of training and safety planning.

Can your business afford $350,000 in safety violation fines?

Can your business afford the bad press of an employee complaint or lawsuit with regards to exposure?

Hiring professionals just makes sense. The BioClean Team is OSHA-certified, and certified with Public Department of Health to handle and transport medical waste and many other biohazards. The BioClean Team also is able to issue a certificate of treatment or remediation for proof of proper cleanup should the need arise, so you won’t have to worry about OSHA compliance.

In many cases, biohazard cleanup is covered by insurance, so it’s possible that there will little to no out-of-pocket costs for you to incur. We have worked extensively with all major insurance carriers, and we can file the claim on your behalf and take care of any submission documents, including an inventory of any biohazard-contaminated items.the BIOclean team

Our team provides complete biohazard cleanup in San Bernardino, Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside counties. We also can provide you with professional chemical cleanup services. No matter what hazardous materials you need to remove from a property, The BioClean Team can help. We are available 24/7/365, and can mobilize a team quickly to any point in Southern California.

Suicide Cleanup Services: Discreet & Compassionate

Losing a loved one to suicide is one of the hardest and most devastating events that families and friends may face. Unfortunately, though, in the hours following a suicide, when a family is dealing with great emotional turmoil, there are practical issues that must be handled, including suicide cleanup.

Not only should a family member or friend not have to deal with the emotional turmoil of cleanup, the reality is that you need professional biohazard remediation services to ensure that the space is restored to a safe condition. The BioClean Team can provide you with discreet and compassionate suicide clean-up in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California.

We have helped families across Southern California handled the issue of suicide cleanup, as well as helping landlords after a tenant has died. Our team will arrive in discreet vehicles and quickly provide you with the services that you need.

How Much Does It Cost?
This is typically the first question people will ask us. After a loved one has died, there are so many arrangements to handle, and funeral costs can be quite exorbitant, but you can rest assured that the cost of suicide cleanup will not be prohibitive. In most cases, property insurance will cover the cost of our services, so you won’t have to worry about the cost.

Our team has been trained to handle cleanup services as well as all of the accompanying paperwork. We have worked with all major insurance carriers, as well as private insurance adjustors, and we can handle the paperwork for you. We will file the claim on your behalf and submit any necessary documents. If you don’t have insurance, we can provide you with a free estimate, and will assist you in any way we can.

When Will Your Team Arrive?the BIOclean team
The BioClean Team is available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. You can contact us at any time, night or day, and we will send out an experienced team of biohazard remediation specialists. We can arrive quickly and provide suicide cleanup in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

It is important the suicide cleanup occur as quickly as possible to mitigate any health risks, and we arrive typically within an hour or two to thoroughly clean and decontaminate the area. As soon as first responders and coroners have left, we will be able to come in and provide you with suicide cleanup services.

What Occurs During The Cleanup Process?
While the emotional impact of a suicide is traumatic enough, the grim reality is that any blood or bodily fluid left behind poses a serious health risk to anyone else on the property.

Upon arrival, our team will assess the situation and carefully inspect the area to identify all areas where biohazards may be present. We will clean the area with special chemicals, and carefully remove any contaminated bedding, furnishings and carpeting, etc.

These tasks must be completed by a licensed, certified cleanup team with expert knowledge in biohazard remediation. As an example, while a small blood stain might be visible, what you might not see is that the blood has seeped below carpeting and spread to a wider area. We understand that not all biohazards are immediately visible, and that all biohazards must be removed carefully and securely.

The Emotional Component
The BioClean Team was founded by a nurse with more than 10 years of emergency room experience. Her goal is not just to provide fast, efficient and thorough biohazard cleanup services, but also to provide her clients with a dose of compassion.

She’s helped hundreds of people during some of the most emotionally trying times of their lives, and has trained her team to provide caring and compassionate services. It’s not just about the cleanup; it’s about providing some measure of comfort after a horrible tragedy has occurred.

Suicide Prevention & Resources
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, and you can speak with a counselor at any time, night or day.

Additionally, if you believe a friend or family member is struggling with thoughts of suicide, it can be difficult to know how to help. You also can get advice by calling the aforementioned number or by going to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website, at SuicidePreventionLifeline.org. This website provides you with many resources for helping someone in crisis.

If a loved one has taken their life, the emotional toll can be devastating, and in the coming weeks, months and years, you may find that you need help to cope with the grief. You are not alone, and there are many people who can help. In addition to reaching out to friends, counselors and clergy, you also might contact the Alliance of Hope at AllianceOfHope.org. Here you’ll find information about support groups in your area, as well as an online forum where you talk with others who are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to suicide.

If your family has experienced a tragedy, give us a call at any time. Again, we can provide fast, discreet and professional suicide cleanup in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.