Let’s face it, this is a problem that no-one really wants and one which may not even occur to many of us when we close up a property. Yet, when we consider that our properties and premises may be vulnerable to squatters or vandals who might pull apart fixtures and appliances, the chance of a clean-up including human or hazardous waste is actually quite high.
Waste or hazardous waste?
According to the Health and Safety Executive, waste is defined as hazardous “when it contains substances or has properties which might make it harmful to human health or the environment.” For the average property owner this can mean two problems:
- Harmful to human health – how can you physically clean up actual hazardous waste so that the property is restored to safe levels of cleanliness and hygiene?
- Harmful to the environment – even if you could affect a safe cleanup, how should you dispose of the hazardous waste without causing a problem elsewhere or breaking the law? It’s extremely important to consider this because legislation states that hazardous waste cannot be disposed of at the same landfill site as non-hazardous and all hazardous waste needs to be disposed of ethically and responsibly.
There are many ways that premises can quickly become vulnerable hot-spots for hazardous waste. Commonly identified causes include:
- Squatters using ‘toilet’ facilities when utilities have actually been turned off – no water available for regular clean-ups means that human waste becomes a hazard to health very quickly;
- Discarded drug paraphernalia, which is often found in vacant properties or after squatters have been present presents its own hazards to health and needs to be disposed of professionally to avoid spreading the problem;
- Other human waste elements which can be evident when drug-taking has been taking place are vomit and blood, human waste products which can cause contamination and be hazardous to remove, particularly when present over a period of time.
- Other discarded matter, such as food, can grow mould very quickly, leading not only to an environmental hazard, but may also lead to insect or vermin infestation;
- Poor maintenance or leaks and floods can lead to damp mould and spores which can grow prolifically over time and cause a hazard to health;
- Even without trespassers to the property, if premises have been vacated suddenly, general items of waste can have the potential to become a hazard for the next company or individuals who use the building.
The majority of these particular hazards are known as bio-hazardous waste because of their biological element (eg: blood) or a microbiological element (eg: spores, bacteria, viral matter). Microbiological matter can of course be invisible to the naked eye and so presents an additional danger because even if a building appears clean on the surface, bio-hazardous elements may be present. If there’s the chance that bio-hazardous waste has ever been present in the premises, having a professional clean before starting to use the building is highly recommended. Additionally, chemical waste is also a common hazard in empty premises, such as left-over or forgotten chemicals and substances in an empty pharmaceutical or manufacturing premises.
Not your average clean-up campaign
So if you’re faced with something which is clearly bigger than your average clean up, what can you do? Professional cleaning is a must but although many professional cleaning companies do offer deep cleaning options, the disposal and clean up of hazardous waste is another matter entirely. It’s extremely important that fully professional bio-hazard cleaning methods are used, including processes which adhere to the HSE’s guidelines for safe disposal and follow hygiene-regulation compliant cleaning methods recommendations.
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…
Although cost may be an issue, to ensure that your premises is thoroughly cleaned and hazardous waste is properly disposed of, using the services of a professional company such as Safe Site Facilities can be an extremely cost-effective alternative when you consider the hidden costs of taking a D.I.Y approach. Effective waste handling and hazardous waste disposal requires a professional service which takes into account:
- The environmental factors of the actual premises (eg: whether there are other incidental hazards such as shards of glass from broken windows and forced entry) and how these may impact on the approach to the clean-up;
- The environmental factors which need to be considered for disposing of human and hazardous waste in compliance with HSE and local council hygiene regulations;
- The training and expertise required in the mopping up and disposal of a whole range of human waste and hazardous substances;
- The safety requirement of personal protective clothing and equipment to allow safe work at minimum risk;
- The need for speedy, efficient work. Sometimes, a clean up of hazardous waste such as chemicals or toxic substances needs to take place quickly, to minimise problems and ensure no risk to other users of the building;
- The fact that sometimes hazardous waste may not be obvious. Taking over the use of a building which may have stored hazardous waste without having it professionally checked is risky in itself. SafeSite Security Solutions offer professional inspection services as well as clearing and cleaning expertise.
- That for your own peace of mind (and often for insurance purposes), a company which specialises in hazardous waste removal and disposal should be fully licensed in the handling and carrying of the waste and offer documentary evidence for inspection as required.
Of course, using the services of a company such as Safe Site Facilities for a clean-up also means easy access to a professional service for securing your property after the clear up, especially if it needs to remain empty for a little longer. The premises will not only be left clean and ready to use, it can also be professionally secured to avoid the possibility of a hazardous history repeating itself.