In DOT HazMat

 

While crime does not pay the perpetrator, some people do make a living cleaning up crime scenes. While it’s not always an easy job, and it’s not for everyone, crime scene cleanup services are in demand in many parts of the country.

People who clean crime scenes come in after the police finish their work and remove any hazardous materials, such as blood and bodily fluids, from the scene. Because you will deal with potentially dangerous substances, you need training and certification in handling these materials before you set out to take your first assignments.

If you’ve ever wondered if you have what it takes to start your own business in cleaning up after crimes, check out these tips.

Pros and Cons of Starting a Crime Scene Cleanup Business

Like all small businesses, starting your own company to clean up crime scenes has pros and cons. You have all the concerns of any small business coupled with having to train employees to handle the hazards found at crime scenes safely.

1. Advantages

Depending on where you operate your business, you may find no shortage of work. Larger cities and metropolitan areas may offer your company more business than a small town. If you work with a law enforcement agency, finding jobs will be even easier. Getting such an endorsement, though, will require hard work ad proving your company’s value.

When someone says crime scene cleanup, your first thought may be the scene of a murder. This isn’t the only type of crime scene that needs cleaning, though. Break-ins that leave scattered broken glass or damaged furnishings may also require cleanup services. Former drug labs need decontamination. Aside from crimes, you may find work cleaning up after fires or in cases of medical emergencies that leave behind blood. By keeping your options open, you make finding work for your company easier. Just be prepared to train your employees in all aspects of cleanup, not just biohazards.

2. Disadvantages

While it’s an in-demand service in many areas, crime scene cleanup does have some disadvantages. You may have trouble recruiting employees. This type of work does not appeal to everyone. Those who do the cleanup after crimes need to have strong stomachs and be willing to get calls at odd hours. Offering lucrative salaries and benefits may help you get more employees for your business.

The other disadvantage of the business is its nature. You will have to encounter hazards daily, and failure to protect yourself against inhaled or bloodborne pathogens could result in deadly consequences. Those involved in violent crimes that leave their blood behind are more likely to have conditions that can spread through contact with the blood, according to Dr. Robert Hirschtick, a specialist in infectious diseases. You may also have to deal with potentially dangerous chemicals or drugs in some instances.

The nature of the business is dealing with disposing of the hazardous waste leftover after a crime. To keep this downside from becoming a business roadblock, thoroughly train your employees in protecting themselves and others against contamination from blood and other dangerous waste from crime scenes.

Create a Crime Scene Cleanup Business Plan

Of course, with any business, you must create a plan for how you want your company to operate. The business plan will include information on the scope of your business. You will need to conduct copious amounts of research about your local market and competitors before answering these questions about your proposed business. If you want a business loan or other type of startup funding, you’ll need a concrete plan.

1. What Type of Cleaning Will Your Business Do?

Will you focus on only cleaning up bodily fluids, or will you broaden your offerings to fire recovery or drug labs? The type of cleanup you want your business to conduct will inform the training courses you choose for your employees.

2. Who Will Work for You?

As for employees, how many will you need? Do you want independent contractors, or should you hire salaried workers? Consider starting small unless you become a franchise owner of an existing chain of businesses. Starting on your own in any business is challenging. You may consider opening a franchise if you find an opportunity available in your area. Franchise owners have the benefit of marketing and structure of a larger corporation with the control of running their local unit.

3. How Much Will You Charge?

Plan how much you will charge for your services. Research the prices of other companies in your area charge. For example, one company told the Chicago Tribune that prices for a one-room homicide cleanup range from $1500 to $3000. The costs increase based on the complexity of the work. In some instances, your company may need to remove wallboard and flooring and install replacements, depending on the material and the depth of saturation.

4. What Types of Payment Will You Accept?

While thinking about prices for your services, consider payment methods you will accept. Will you require upfront payments in the form of cash, check or credit? Or will you be willing to allow insurance companies to pay you for your work? The latter will require considerable time and effort, but it could increase the number of customers you get by facilitating the process for already grieving families.

5. Whom Will You Cater Your Business’ Services to?

Think about your customer base. Will you market your services mainly to law enforcement agencies? Do you want to target property managers who want to turn over properties as quickly as possible? What about homeowners? Are you willing to work directly with the victim of a crime or their family in your cleanup duties?

6. What Will Your Operating Costs Be?

You don’t have to outline the exact costs, but know what you will use for equipment, contracting fees and labor. Outline these amounts to help identify how much you will spend in cleanup and what your profits will be based on the price you charge.

7. Craft a Business Plan

A traditional business plan has seven sections that thoroughly explain everything an investor needs to know about your business proposal. A well-made business plan can help you get the funding you need to start.

  • Executive Summary: Your business plan should include an executive summary at the top that explains the plan in a paragraph.
  • Description: Describe your company in detail. Explain why your business idea has merit and what makes it unique.
  • Market Research Results: Explain your business’s place in the local economy and its future based on market trends.
  • Organization: Write about your company’s organization. Include whether you will be a sole proprietorship, LLC, a C or S corporation or a limited or general partnership.
  • Services: Explain the specific services your crime scene cleanup company will offer.
  • Marketing: Explain how and to whom you will market your services. Investors want to know how you plan to get and keep customers.
  • Funding: Request the amount of money your business needs to get it through the first five years. Also, include how much you plan to grow your profits by over that time.

What Are the Requirements for Crime Scene Cleanup?

Some states require registering your crime scene cleanup business. California is one example where to register, you must have a contractual relationship with an approved medical waste disposal company or transporter. If you don’t register, you may not be able to work in the state. Florida is the only other state requiring crime scene cleanup businesses to register with the state. However, state laws can change regularly. Check your state’s regulations for what you need to do. Failure to do so could halt your operations.

Both California and Florida monitor trauma cleanup businesses under their respective Departments of Health. While neither state regulates the manner of cleaning, both require registration of the business with the state. For instance, in California, while the state does not regulate how registered companies clean, it does offer an outline of what a trauma scene cleanup crew should do to control infectious substances. Users of a cleanup crew’s services can use the information to determine whether the job followed protocol.

Florida, for example, requires trauma cleanup businesses to register both as biomedical waste generators and transporters, you will need the latter to carry more than 25 pounds of waste from a crime scene. In California, any medical waste requires transport by a licensed medical waste transportation provider.

Crime Scene Cleanup Certification Programs

States do not require a specific certification in trauma scene cleanup. However, you will need training for yourself and your employees to ensure you know how to handle the substances you encounter. For instance, you will need OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Training since this is required for anyone who come in contact with infectious human bodily substances such as blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Training on OSHA regulations governing Hazard Communication will also teach you how to work safety with the chemicals used for the clean-ups.

If you get involved in cleaning up illicit drug labs then the training you’d need depends on the requirements of the local authorities. They may consider such drug labs hazardous waste sites, in which case specific training requirements, such as OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training, would apply.

Having OSHA training gives you an edge in finding work because it helps you prove to clients that your crew knows how to make crime scenes safe for unprotected individuals to return to. Training also keeps your employees safe when dealing with bodily fluids and the pathogens they can carry.

Create a Crime Scene Cleanup Equipment List

You need an equipment list to plan your costs for each job. The equipment your crew carries should prepare them to clean up blood and other fluids. You will need to include personal protection equipment, disinfecting products and containers designated for disposing of waste.

Personal protection equipment, or PPE, may include gloves, respirators, face masks, goggles and other barriers between yourself and the bodily fluids on the scene. Specific equipment depends on the conditions and what you need to protect yourself from.

Look for disinfecting products approved for cleaning biomedical waste. Hospital cleaning supply stores should have the products you need for your business.

Likely, you will want to work with a medical waste transportation company to remove waste from the scene. Coordinate with that company to determine the types of containers you need to use for the waste. Do not throw away biomedical waste in the regular garbage to avoid fines from local governments and putting others at risk.

Marketing Your New Crime Scene Cleanup Business

Whatever business you start, you must market it. While promoting a crime scene cleanup company seems grim, you need to do it to get customers to keep you in business.

Contact local law enforcement agencies to offer your services. If you operate in a state that requires registration, you may get business from individuals who find you on the state’s Health Department website and need trauma scene cleaning.

For every job you do, get photos before and after the work finishes. These pictures can show others how well you restore the area to its appearance before the crime occurred. Try to get testimonials when possible. These quotes from customers and the pictures of your work will make establishing your reputation easier.

Promote your employees’ training and keep them updated on the latest OSHA changes by offering continuing education opportunities each year. If you work with insurance companies, showing that your employees have adequate training that they regularly reinforce may be a requirement for compensation.

Don’t discount your online presence. In today’s society, a business without a website is suspect. Use the website as a way to describe your business and showcase your former jobs. Maintain social media pages that you update daily as a way for prospective customers to get answers to questions.

Throughout all your interactions, especially with family members of the deceased, display a high degree of sympathy. Showing empathy to your customers is a vital part of the job.

Also, maintain your professionalism in doing your job. You need to be thorough to not only protect those in the building from bloodborne pathogens from the crime scene but also from memories of the incident. Your job as a trauma scene cleanup company is helping the family to move on by removing the physical evidence of the crime. Always take the weight of this task seriously.

Get Crime Scene Certified With Hazmat School

While you won’t find a specific certification for crime scene cleanup, you should still take courses in dealing with hazardous waste disposal, especially bloodborne pathogens. Knowing how to handle blood-covered materials safely is integral to your work in crime scene cleanup.

By taking an OSHA course through Hazmat School to train you in dealing with these bloodborne dangers as well as respiratory protection, you will be better prepared to protect yourself on the job. For more information about our courses or to enroll, contact us. We can train you and all your employees in staying safe around the blood and bodily fluids of a crime scene. Make training with us your first step in starting your new trauma scene cleaning service.

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