Crime Scene Cleanup is a profession that remains unknown to many.
Until a life of their loved one ended in the worst possible way, forced them to call a crime scene cleanup company and have to be face-to-face with a group of workers in hazmat suits.
But what is it anyway?
If you are looking for a job and considering to pursue this career, read on!
Understanding Crime Scene Clean-up
Crime Scene Cleanup is a term that refers to forensic cleaning up of bodily fluids, blood, and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) in a crime scene. Other incidents that need cleaning up also include suicide or attempted suicide, accidents, homicide, infectious disease contamination, accidents at work, mass trauma, as well as decomposition due to an unattended death.
In the past, only family members were left the task of cleaning after a tragedy, with only a bucket, water, mop, and bleach. Little did they know, that apart from a possible trauma after already traumatic adversity, they could also be exposed to the harm caused by infectious substances.
In the ’90s, a small group of companies started to handle these kinds of situations with proper training and equipment. They specialize in the removal of blood, fluids and other hazardous materials. Along with the increasing number of crimes in the world, Crime Scene cleanup companies grow in number, too.
Life of a Crime Scene Cleaner
Now that you have a deeper understanding of this job, and are considering that this is for you, what should be your expectations? Let’s dig deeper and find out what a day in the life of a crime scene cleaner looks like. Like many others, there are also potential risks to this physically-demanding job, perhaps more. These include the following:
- Traumatic Conditions. They are called “second responders” after the police. Most of the time, cleaners arrive at horrifying crime circumstances and emotionally draining scenarios. So, whatever the circumstance is, you must be able to keep your self-control professionally, and at the same time, provide sympathy and emotional support to the family.
- Safety and Health Risks. They are exposed to harmful bodily fluids that can cause life-long or deadly diseases, like hepatitis and HIV. This is the biggest reason why they have to be completely geared, wearing biohazard suits, respirators, gloves, and other protective equipment. Extensive training is also included.
- Long term training. Like education is continuous, training as a cleaner is likewise long term, probably lifelong. Many agencies or companies require ongoing workshops and training to provide the newest information about the policies and technology.
- Demanding hours. Crimes and deaths happen anytime. This is not a typical 9-6, Monday through Friday job. Clients call on weekends, at midnight, even on holidays, or anytime even in the middle of family dinner.
Here is a video showing a story of a trauma cleaner for a clearer view of this job.
How To Get Started As A Crime Scene Cleanup Agent
To get started as a crime scene cleanup agent, a degree doesn’t count. Age doesn’t matter, too. Additionally, men and women are equally qualified as long as you have the following requirements and qualifications, and supplies that include:
1. Bio-recovery courses that provide Bloodborne pathogen training required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
2. Counseling training that enables agents to cope-up mentally and emotionally from the pressures of the job.
Voluntary certifications available, sometimes provided by the company/employer
1. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including respiratory masks, gloves, biohazard suits, and shoe coverings
2. Cleaning supplies: sponges, buckets, mops, cleaning cloths, etc. Remember to dispose all these materials after cleaning.
3. Ladders or long-handed cleaning brushes to reach high ceilings and walls.
4. Biohazard disposal containers. Both solid plastic containers and heavy-duty hazmat bags are available that can be sealed safely
5. Disinfectant solutions and commercially available solvents like peroxide and bleach
6. Plastic sheeting and bio-tape
7. Portable ATP fluorescence testing unit
8. Cutters or Razor blades. Infected carpets and upholstery should be disposed.
9. Industrial strength deodorizers
Skills / Qualities
Compassion: It is not just a job that pays. It requires solitude to the family of the dead person, too.
High Tolerance: Cleaners walk into extremely shocking crime scenes. Not only endurance to the potential health hazards are needed, but also to heart-breaking conditions.
Commitment: The job demands 24 hour-commitment. Why? People call at any time of the day. Worst, even at family reunions. You must be prepared to attend to the scene whatever occasion you are attending.
Honesty and Trustworthy: Clients entrust their homes to agents. As well as their safety. A cleaner should possess clean records, including driving, previous criminal records, and most of all, drug-free.
Detail-oriented: Like any other jobs, employees in this industry must follow proper regulations and procedures that promote their safety, as well as the costumers’. They must also provide quick problem solutions.
How Much Do Crime Scene Cleaners Get Paid?
Usually, people like to stay in a career that gives stability, good working environment, nice bosses, great pay, and holiday offs. While this may be possible in one job, you might need a lot of training and certificates, impressive educational attainment, history of experiences and top quality skills.
If you decide to stay in the crime scene cleanup industry, one thing to consider among others is the salary. Is it enough to bring food on the table? Does it pay rent?
Salary ranges from $35,000 – $80,000 annually. The higher pay goes to people who are exposed to a more risky environment like a biohazard cleanup.
A Risky, Rewarding Job
Crime Scene cleanup job is not for the faint heart, neither the weak knees. If you are scared at the sight of blood, then this career might not suit you. However, if you are looking for a self-rewarding job that tests your endurance, commitment, and integrity, then start looking for a credible Crime Scene cleanup company near you that takes care of your safety, at the same time.
Always remember that you are taking care of the safety of the clients, as well as yours!