Contents Cleaning in A Post-COVID World: What Has Changed?

contents cleaners in hazmat suits

A popular question I am getting asked quite frequently these days: “what has changed in contents restoration with COVID in the world today?” My answer?

Everything and nothing at all. Wait…WHAT?

Nothing has really changed in regards to how we should be protecting ourselves when working on a fire job or how we should process a job. What has changed is our awareness of just how critical it is to process contents properly while protecting ourselves, our employees, and our clients at all times.

This virus got in our face, and produced immediate consequences if we didn’t take the hazards of the job seriously. I actually believe COVID rearing its ugly head into the world has had a positive effect on our industry for several reasons.


Safety First

Too many have gotten complacent when it comes to safety on fire jobs. I was teaching a pack out class on a really bad duplex fire job in Minnesota a few months ago. While working on site, I saw a very well-known company packing out the attached house without so much as a pair of gloves on. No Tyvek suits. No respirators. No gloves. These employees were covered, and I mean covered, in black soot when they came out of the house for lunch.

For some, the importance of using proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is just something they can’t be bothered with. It costs money, time, it’s uncomfortable to wear, and is just one more thing we have to deal with out in the field. Guess what else costs money, time, is uncomfortable, and is something you have to deal with everyday? Cancer.

But the effects of breathing in carcinogens and gases that can be present on any given fire job like formaldehyde, arsenic, asbestos, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can take years to show up. COVID-19, on the other hand, shows up almost immediately if you aren’t properly protecting yourself.

So, again, there is a silver lining with this latest pandemic. Within the restoration industry, there has been heightened awareness about using the proper PPE and having proper training in place.


Heightened Client Awareness

In years past, I have actually had clients get upset with me for wearing a Tyvek suit and full face respirator on a job. They said it was overly dramatic and not necessary as they have been coming in and out of the affected structure with shorts and flip flops on for days. All the while, they are complaining about a sore throat, burning eyes, and a headache.

“If you want consistency, accuracy and efficiency, you better have your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place. And in light of COVID, this may also protect you from being fired off a job or worse yet, slapped with a lawsuit.”

Fast forward to today, in some communities you wouldn’t think of getting out of your vehicle to meet with a client without at a minimum a mask on, and if you did, your client would quickly remind you one is necessary.

Clients have safety top-of-mind these days and they want to know that as you clean their belongings and their home, you are properly trained and using the right solutions to get the job done.

This heightened client awareness has made us, as restorers, really have to be on our “A” game when it comes to properly processing personal belongings to return to a home once we know they have been decontaminated and cleaned.


Systems and Procedures to Protect Your Business

It has always been important to have protocols in place when doing restorative cleaning, not only to streamline your contents processing division, but to ensure every single job is processed the correct way.

If you want consistency, accuracy and efficiency, you better have your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place. And in light of COVID, this may also protect you from being fired off a job or worse yet, slapped with a lawsuit.

Your client onboarding process is very important to ensure your content job gets off to a great start. Setting expectations for safety and communication at the beginning of a job is critical to the job’s success.

This onboarding process needs to be seamless and thorough in every aspect, which is virtually impossible to do without a system in place that is followed by all on every single job.


Lessons from COVID

COVID has reminded us of what is most important in contents restoration.

  • Safety always first
  • Caring for our clients emotionally
  • Be on your “A” game at all times

The stress levels for our clients today is at an all-time high. It is our job to take away the stress of wondering if their home is ever going to go back to normal again and replace it with hope. And help them see that one day soon, everything will be ok.

Annissa Coy

Annissa Coy

Annissa Coy is a highly-skilled veteran in the restoration industry with 20+ years under her belt and is the co-creator of Firehouse Education and innovator of Mobile Clean Systems for contents restoration. She is an award-winning author, speaker, coach, and videographer. Her passion for education in the industry is showcased by her YouTube Channel where she has hundreds of videos teaching contents restoration from A-Z. She has won many awards in the industry, including Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 and the Women in Restoration Award in 2017.

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