A recent ruling by the Washington Court of Appeals has thrown a spotlight on the importance of proper training when performing biohazard removal work such as suicide scene cleanup.  Debbie Rothwell, a custodian for the Nine Mile Falls School District in Washington state, was instructed by the school district superintendent to cleanup a suicide scene after one of the students shot himself in the head in a classroom. The suicide scene cleanup required the removal of “brain matter, pieces of bone, and blood” without the supplies and equipment necessary for bio-hazard cleanup and removal. Additionally, cleanup of a suicide scene, especially one in which biohazards are visibly present, placed her at risk of contracting life threatening and potentially fatal disease.

According to court records, Ms. Rothwell realized that she recognized the victim and was “very distraught” about the situation. She also claimed in court filings that she was traumatized cleaning up memorials left by students for the suicide victim, as well as the anguish of crying students in a nearby grief counseling session held at the school. Ms. Rothwell subsequently sued the school district and the district superintendent claiming intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. After a series of appeals, Washington appellate court ruled Washington appellate court ruled Workers Compensation to be the exclusive remedy in the case. The court found that the suicide scene cleanup work resulted in the custodian developing PTSD; which classified her condition as an industrial accident under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act.

The courts ruled in this case that school district was negligent in cleaning up the scene of the student’s suicide. Especially in a school situation, the importance of thorough cleaning and bio hazard removal cannot be overemphasized. Crime scene cleanup and suicide scene cleaning involves biohazard removal and medical waste handing. Hazardous materials handling falls under HAZWOPER regulations mandated by the EPA and OSHA. This is why it is so important to hire trained cleanup professionals.

Advanced Bio Treatment’s scene cleaning technicians are trained and certified to handle dangerous scene cleanup situations. The company maintains strict adherence to federal and state scene cleanup regulations as well as a strict code of safe practices. Additionally, scene cleanup crews have the necessary safety equipment and use only EPA registered hospital grade. All scene cleanup waste is biohazardous and Advanced Bio Treatment works with Stericycle, a national leader in medical waste disposal.

About Advanced Bio Treatment:

Advanced Bio Treatment is a scene cleanup company specializing in biohazard decontamination such as crime scene cleanup, trauma and accident cleanup, suicide scene cleanup, and death scene cleanup. We understand that in the aftermath of a crime or unattended death or other traumatic event, cleanup of the scene requires the removal and decontamination of dangerous biohazards. Our technicians are trained and certified to handle dangerous scene cleanup situations. Advanced Bio Treatment employs local scene cleanup crews on call 24/7 to respond to any situation and we promise a 3 hour emergency response time. 800-295-1684 or email info@advancedbio-treatment.com

Contributing article:
Workers comp is exclusive remedy for cleaner at scene of student suicide

Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment