With safety on everyone’s minds, we take great care to protect ourselves. At the grocery store, restaurants, social events, and even funerals. You may not know it, but biohazards are everywhere – even the funeral home. That’s why funeral homes partner with biohazard cleanup companies.
What’s your general feeling about funeral homes? Do you have to force yourself to attend a visitation? If so, you’re not alone.
Even when it’s the passing of a close friend or loved one, many people don’t like going to funerals or funeral homes. The reasons vary.
Some people are uncomfortable with death and don’t know what to say to the bereaved.
Some folks dread standing in long visitation lines that seem to never end.
There’s no way around it: death is painful. But as sad as it is, we go to visitation to support those left behind.
Often, it falls to the funeral director to oversee the visitation. They must advise and counsel grieving loved ones. Sometimes they referee family conflicts. And always, they must obey local, state, and federal regulations.
With all these responsibilities, it’s hard to ensure that biohazard precautions are followed. And that can get them into expensive trouble. Funeral homes may not have the funds to pay for a staff member who only oversees biowaste management.
Most people expect cleanliness at a funeral home. And even though they may not talk about it, dealing with death gives people the creeps. We all know about embalming and cremation, but do we understand the processes? And more importantly, do we know what is needed to maintain a safe environment? Maybe, maybe not.
Funeral homes deal with a laundry list of biohazards. They handle blood, embalming fluid, toxic chemicals, and various tools during funeral preparations.
Here are four signs a funeral home should partner with a biohazardous waste management company.
Biohazard Cleanup Issue #1: Blood
Embalming keeps the body from deteriorating by draining the blood from the veins and replacing it with embalming fluid and toxic chemicals. You should never see signs of blood at the funeral home, but if you do, such as gauze tossed into a waste can or used vials of blood, it means the funeral home is not containing bloodborne pathogens.
Swabs and Dressings: Items that have come into contact with bodily fluids may be tainted and must be disposed of properly; otherwise, staff and other individuals are at risk of infection.
Biohazard Cleanup Issue #2: Sharps
While bloodborne pathogens can live on surfaces without detection, sharps and instruments are more visible. Funeral homes often use sharps such as scissors, scalpels, and knives. Objects that pierce the skin often contain contaminants that can infect funeral home workers, the community, and the environment.
Biohazard Cleanup Issue #3: Surface Cleanings
All surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected, including counters, tables, sinks, bathrooms, and kitchen areas. While the funeral home staff cleans their building, biohazard cleanup companies often disinfect surfaces much more thoroughly than those performing routine cleaning.
And Don’t Forget Floors
Equipment and supplies dropped on the floors during use can also transfer contaminants. It’s crucial to keep the floors clean and buffed. Signs of an unclean environment include dust bunnies, smears, wet spots, and trash.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Masks, gloves, and gowns worn by employees to protect themselves from diseases can carry the contaminants they are trying to avoid.
Body preparation supplies: Tissues, makeup, and adhesives are all susceptible to carrying toxic materials. Hazardous gauze and swabs used in applications can contaminate those working with the supplies.
Natural Gas: Cremation is another way to dispose of a human body after death. Propane and natural gas are used to burn and then calcify the remains of the deceased. Natural gases are harmful to humans.
Funeral homes are responsible for disposing of hazardous waste. While they depend on the waste removal company to follow laws, the funeral home is ultimately liable. That’s why they should partner with biohazard cleanup companies for regular cleaning as well as deep cleaning.
Part of keeping people safe is knowing how disease spreads in the first place. Let’s say a funeral home staff member works with embalming fluid, which means the employee comes into contact with blood.
During the process, the person leaves the room to get a cup of coffee. Maybe they don’t wash their hands properly. Or perhaps they lean on the counter, and their clothing brushes against the coffee machine. The next person who comes along has no idea the coffee creamer they’ve just handled was previously handled by someone who’d been in contact with bloodborne pathogens.
Correct disposal of infected materials is imperative to maintaining a safe environment for all employees of the funeral home as well as the visiting public.
Some of the guidelines for managing hazardous waste include:
- Learn the safety guidelines for your products.
- Limit the toxicity of the chemicals used in the embalming process.
- Be aware of the location and compliance of the disposal facility.
- Keep copies of all waste disposal paperwork.
- Never pour solvents or chlorinated compounds down the sink.
If you have employees, no matter their role in the funeral home, they must receive training in OSHA bloodborne pathogens and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment, such as gloves and masks).
Online training is often available and less costly than sending personnel for on-site training. Plus, the training can be taken at intervals rather than all at once. Considering the amount of material to digest, delivering the training in this manner avoids brain overload.
Dealing with death is hard enough without coming into contact with contaminants. That’s why Georgia Clean makes it our priority to clean your property correctly. Georgia Clean urges funeral homes to be constantly alert for situations that can spread disease.
Partnering with a reputable biohazard cleaning company is an excellent way to protect staff and visitors both in and outside the funeral home.
When it comes to safety, you never have a second chance to get it right the first time. Call Georgia Clean today.