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Types Of PPE Used By Crime Scene Cleaners

Updated: 5 days ago

Types Of PPE Used By Crime Scene Cleaners

Since any bodily fluids are considered hazardous materials, crime scene cleaners require a specific set of personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their jobs safely without risk of contamination or infection.

Generally, crime scene cleanup services will ensure their staff has protective suits, respirators, protective shoe covers or chemical spill boots, and non-porous gloves.

Most of the PPE used by crime scene cleaners is specifically designed to be used once, before being disposed of.

Read on as we delve into the details of the types of PPE used by crime scene cleaning companies and why it must be worn.

4 Types Of PPE Worn By Professional Crime Scene Cleaners

Most of the waste and bodily fluids found at crime scenes (especially if a violent crime was committed) are considered hazardous, which is why cleaners must wear protective clothing.

Below are the four types of PPE typically worn by those working for crime scene cleaning services.

1. Protective suit

Members of a crime scene cleanup crew will wear a disposable full-body suit that covers them from head to toe.

The suit has a hood covering the hair or top of the head and the ears, long sleeves that cinch at the wrists, and legs that extend straight down to the ankles.

Protective clothing like this usually comes in a wide range of materials - the type worn will depend on the type of incident.

  • Tyvek: This high-density polyethylene fabric provides protection against particles as small as 1 micron. It is commonly used in crime scenes where there is blood or other biological hazards and can provide protection from blood-borne pathogens.

  • Microfibre: This material offers decent protection from aerosols, dust, and non-hazardous fluids. It's often used in non-hazardous incidents where the cleaner is avoiding contaminating the scene.

  • Gore-Tex: This popular waterproof yet breathable fabric is often worn in less hazardous outdoor crime scenes.

  • Neoprene or rubber: Because of the incredible protection these materials offer, neoprene or rubber suits are worn at crime scenes where there are chemical hazards, like toxic chemicals or corrosive materials.

Hazmat suits used by professional crime scene cleanup services come in four levels, depending on the type of crime scene that needs cleaning:

  • Level A: This suit offers the highest protection level, and can safeguard against toxic and hazardous materials. This includes biological pathogens (like a disease) or radioactive materials. This level of protection covers the entire body, including the face and eyes.

  • Level B: Although this level still offers a lot of protection, it can't protect the wearer from gas or vapor. It is used specifically to offer protection against liquids and covers the entire body, including a respirator.

  • Level C: These suits still protect against most hazardous fluids, but do not offer any protection from gases. This level of protection includes a half-mask with goggles.

  • Level D: This is the lowest level and can be worn at crime scenes where there is no risk of being exposed to hazardous materials. With this level, face masks are optional and shoe covers are not required.

Once the crime scene has been cleaned up, protective full-body suits are disposed of in special hazardous waste containers.

2. Chemical spill boots

It is necessary to wear protective foot coverings when doing a crime scene clean-up.

The boots worn by cleaners are made of chemical-resistant material that's completely non-permeable to any liquids - including hazardous fluids.

If the scene of an incident does not contain any toxic chemicals, only a protective covering (often called a "bootie") is worn over the shoes. It protects the shoes and the cleaner from biohazards.

3. Respirator/Face mask

A face mask is worn to protect the nose, mouth, and in some cases, the eyes.

In crime scenes where there are chemicals or toxic vapors, a respirator will be worn to filter the air. These are also worn when there is a decomposing body. Full-face respirators provide protection to the eyes and face.

With a less violent crime scene, a surgical mask will be worn to protect the cleaner from splashes, dust, and airborne particles.

4. Non-porous gloves

The most commonly worn gloves are latex gloves as they can protect the wearer from pathogens - which is important when handling blood or body parts.

In more extreme cases, rubber gloves or nitrile are also worn. These materials are puncture-resistant, offering more protection. The cleaner might wear two pairs of gloves if required by the setting.

Gloves are taped shut at the wrists where the protective suit meets the gloves to ensure full coverage.

These gloves are then disposed of in biohazard disposal containers when the crime scene has been cleaned and decontaminated.

Additional Equipment Used By Crime Scene Cleanup Services

Apart from the crucial personal protective equipment mentioned above, crime scene cleaners often use the following equipment:

  • Special hazardous waste containers: These sealable containers or bags are used to contain hazardous materials.

  • Cleaning supplies: Cleaners will use buckets, cloths, sponges, cleaning brushes, peroxide, and bleach.

  • Deodorizers: Industrial strength equipment is used, including ozone machines or foggers, to deodorize a crime scene.

  • Enzymatic solvents: Can break down blood and disinfect a surface.

  • Box cutters or razor blades: Used to cut away carpets, curtains, or upholstery that can't be cleaned without removal.

  • Ladders: Used to reach high walls or ceilings.

Why Wear Personal Protective Equipment When Cleaning A Crime Scene?

PPE is used to protect cleaners from biohazards and chemical toxins often found at crime scenes.

Chore-ology is the leading biohazard decontamination service provider in Seattle and Tacoma, so make sure to reach out to them for a free quote or more information on crime scene cleanup.

1. Blood

Most pathogens at crime scenes are found in blood. Blood is also considered a hazardous material and is the most common substance that must be cleaned at crime scenes.

By wearing PPE, cleaners are protected from infection that might come as a result of exposure to pathogens in blood.

2. Infectious disease

It's not just blood that can cause infection - most human remains (and any associated fluids) may contain infectious pathogens or viruses.

3. Odors or vapors

Face masks and respirators protect the cleaner from bad odors (especially if a body has been left to decompose) or any noxious gases. These masks can filter out gases, toxins, and odors.

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