The importance of biohazard cleaning, and how to respond in an emergency situation

Biohazards can pose significant dangers to human health, so it is essential for businesses operating in environments where they may be present to understand what a biohazard is, how to safely and effectively handle them, and how to respond in an emergency.

What is a Biohazard?

A biohazard is a biological substance that poses a threat (or is a hazard) to the health of living organisms, primarily humans. Examples include human blood and blood products, animal waste, bodily fluids, viruses, pathological waste, medical waste, and sharps waste.

By law, employers must adequately control exposure to materials in the workplace that could cause ill health. This is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) and requires biohazards to be carefully handled, with the correct training and disposal procedures. Under such regulations, employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees and anyone else that may be on their premises. It is therefore important to ensure that a process for biohazard cleaning is included within workplace health and safety plans.

While some environments are more likely to encounter biohazards, such as hospitals, laboratories, and industrial facilities, they can also be prevalent within diverse settings including restaurants, leisure facilities, food processing plants, schools, offices, and even homes.

What is Biohazard Cleaning?

Biohazard cleaning is the specialised process of cleaning, removing, and disposing of biological hazards and ensuring the thorough disinfection of all affected areas.  The aim is to return the location to its original state and eliminate any threat to human health.

It constitutes several clean up scenarios, with the most common being trauma or unattended death clean up and crime scene clean ups. Other instances in which specialist biohazard cleaning may be required include industrial spills or accidents, outbreaks of dangerous bacteria or viruses, and infectious diseases. When biohazard incidents are not treated or cleaned properly, they can present a real health risk, lead to property damage or even further contamination outbreaks. For example, if left unattended, bodily fluids such as blood, urine, vomit or faeces can seep into porous materials, creating a risk of exposure to infection if the area is not professionally deep cleaned and disinfected. 

What does Biohazard Cleaning involve?

Firstly, professional, experienced specialist cleaners must conduct a risk assessment to determine the necessary materials and precautions for a safe clean up. This could include PPE (liquid/airtight clothing, goggles, respirator, gloves), industrial chemicals as well as the cleaning tools necessary to remove all hazardous materials and prevent cross contamination with other areas, surfaces, or products. The cleaners will clean under and around visibly damaged areas, stripping back each layer of floor or wall (for example) and testing beneath to ensure that all affected surfaces are treated.

After completing a meticulous clean of the area, thorough disinfection using industrial-strength chemicals is performed, following specific guidelines to eliminate pathogens effectively. The chemicals are then disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion, recycling where possible. Hazardous waste again is taken for disposal which uses the energy from the waste to help recycle it.

Once the area has been disinfected to ensure it is safe to be used again, it may also need to be deodorised to remove any lingering odours.

Risks of Biohazard Cleaning

Biohazards can become a breeding ground for pathogens and microorganisms, and pose a significant health risk to those people occupying or using an affected premises or area. Proper training, adherence to safety protocols, and the use of PPE and specialist equipment are crucial in mitigating these risks by cleaning the area properly.

From a norovirus outbreak in a school to a burst sewer in an office or a spill of pathogenic waste in a lab, the priority should always be to ensure a quick, effective, and safe decontamination of the affected area. Our specialist disinfection service quickly and efficiently cleans up the biohazard with minimal disruption to your business or premises. Our trained experts are available 24/7 and are experienced in dealing with delicate circumstances and environments with complete discretion from trauma and crime scenes to emergency cleaning services at any location.