When do you need to call in biohazard cleaning specialists?

Monday 23rd May

4 minute read

Bodily fluids, blood, and faeces can transmit diseases and constitute a significant health threat.

Decontamination and clean-up are critical following an occurrence involving hazardous chemicals or waste to help reduce the possibility of infection and health concerns so it is important to hire biohazard cleaning specialists.

Contents

But what is a biohazard, and when should you be seeking professional help?

Is a biohazard clean-up a legal requirement?

Different types of biohazard situations

But what is a biohazard, and when should you be seeking professional help?

Biohazards are biological substances (microorganisms, viruses, plants, animals, or their byproducts) that pose a risk to the health of living organisms. They include human bodily fluids, animal faeces, laboratory waste, and other pollutants.

Some biohazards are far more hazardous than others. In blood, body fluids, and other potentially infectious materials, pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, and rickettsia can be detected (OPIM). These organisms cause tuberculosis, E. coli, borreliosis (Lyme disease), and salmonella, among other disorders. Faeces, urine, nasal secretions, sweat, sputum, and vomit are all considered potentially infectious biohazards.

Is a biohazard clean-up a legal requirement?

Yes, because adequately cleaning up a biohazard is a legal duty in many circumstances.

Decontamination and clean-up are usually a legal responsibility of the body to regulate the environment when the situation occurs in a commercial or public setting.

Cleaning body fluids properly is a legal requirement in the workplace, according to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. Employers are required by law to protect the health and safety of their employees and the health and safety of anybody else on the premises.

Employers must have a procedure in place for reporting biohazards as part of their health and safety plan. The risk of sickness resulting from exposure should be assessed, and the company's disinfection procedure for the contaminated location should be outlined. Following a biohazard, the person in control of the property is responsible for organising the clean-up. If left unattended, blood, urine, vomit, and human faeces can seep through porous materials and areas not visible to the untrained eye. As a result, cleaning with traditional cleaning procedures can be difficult. If professional deep cleaning and disinfection are not conducted, the risk of infection and exposure is significantly increased.

In these situations, it's critical to seek professional assistance and hire a professional cleaner who can disinfect the area swiftly and effectively before safely disposing of dangerous materials.

As Graham Hickman, specialist biohazard cleaning services provider from Complete Environmental Services, explains, "No two biohazard call outs are the same. Our technicians are experienced in all facets of specialist cleaning, such as biohazard decontamination and waste removal. We've cleaned up the medical waste that fell off the back of a lorry, cleared drug dens, helped resolve instances of hoarding, cleaned up after a suicide in a hotel and attended an RTA scene to clean up road traffic accidents. Experience counts, following a strict process is essential and having a cast iron stomach helps get the job done - whatever that job is."

Different types of biohazard situations

Biohazards frequently cause difficulties that aren't immediately apparent. Blood-borne infections such as MRSA, HIV, and the Hepatitis B and C viruses can all be present and spread through blood, making blood spills a common biohazard. This begs the question: when do I require the services of a biohazard specialist? When will I be able to do my own clean-up?

Biohazard clean-up specialists are often necessary to lead the cleaning of biological contamination in a specific site, and some of them may surprise you. Biohazard cleaning requires more than just taking up a mop and bucket; it's a precisely planned and regulated series of actions that require specific engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), and extensive training to protect humans from infectious microorganisms.

Here are some examples of situations where a biohazard remediation expert is required:

Blood or other bodily fluids: A paper cut or a nick on the finger while cooking does not constitute a biohazard clean-up. A specialist is usually not necessary until the blood volume is tremendous, such as when the pool of blood is larger than a dinner plate. This is typically the case in cases involving tragic incidents like homicides, suicides, or accidents at home or work.

Hoarding: A hoarder clean-up is required when there is an accumulation of an excessive quantity of objects in an unorganised manner, resulting in unmanageable clutter. The items could have monetary worth or not. Animal faeces accumulation is common, particularly in cases of domestic hoarding, where pets, rats, and mice have been living among the filth.

Waste from animals: When animal carcasses, faeces, or other biological waste clumps together in one place, it poses a severe health risk to everyone in the area. Harmful viruses and other viral species thrive in these settings. Animal faeces accumulation is common, particularly where waste has not been properly cleared from a place and pests such as rats have taken up residence. Pigeons, seagulls, rats, and mice will congregate in public spaces due to abandoned litter and if you’re tasked with bird droppings removal, as an example, then definitely contact a cleaning specialist. Another example, in the summer, seashore beaches draw significant visitors. While the local government may be prepared to clean the region regularly, one unplanned hot weekend can bring tens of thousands of visitors, overwhelming the cleaners.

Graham Hickman agrees, "Back in June 2020, when foreign holidays were banned due to the pandemic, seaside councils seriously struggled to manage the unexpected high amounts of waste from thousands of beach goers. And it wasn't just standard litter. There were used sanitary products, used nappies, and instances where people had defecated on the beach, which attracted animals and increased waste. There were also instances of drug use and drug paraphernalia littering the beach. For example, Bournemouth's seven long miles of golden sands turned into a biohazard nightmare for the local authority BCP. Clearly, it was an exceptional time, but it highlights the challenges for councils managing public services. There's a need to have additional support from reactive and agile biohazard cleaning contractors. The real problem highlighted here is that by its nature, many incidents requiring biohazard clean-ups occur sporadically, and it's tough all round attempting to plan for these requirements."