Not for the faint of heart

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver on Flickr

“There are some things you can’t un-smell.”

That’s what Geoff Shellard says about cleaning up crime & trauma scenes, stolen and recovered vehicles, clandestine drug lab damage, and many more unusual situations around BC. He’s a project manager at Bio Solutions, a Coquitlam-based company on-call 24/7.

I met Geoff at the NAOSH/CSSE awards in October and was extremely curious about this unique line of work.

He told me what it’s like to clean apartments of people who have died alone at home.

“When you walk in, the first thing you experience is the smell. It can tell you a lot about what to expect before you even enter,” he said. “Once inside, there is a degree of detective work as we need to determine the location of the deceased at the time of expiration, and then determine the scope of work and the size of the area impacted. It can be challenging, as what you initially see is not always the whole picture.”

I asked Geoff how his crew protects themselves against bloodborne pathogens and other biohazards. He said everything is treated with a hospital-grade disinfectant before they start the clean up. Their PPE includes extra thick gloves and Tyvex suits from head to toe, among other tricks and tools of the trade.

Mold. Photo by Melanie Innis on Flickr

Dealing with toxic mould

Bio Solutions also deals with mould inspections and the subsequent damage caused by mould – often in rental homes used for growing marijuana. He’s seen some bad damage in grow-op homes; one had mould spores on every wall and extensive water damage. Bad news for many out-of-province landlords.

During mould remediation, workers use “a full-face respirator with vapour gas cartridges, P100s; Tyvek suit with gloves and booties tuck taped to the cuffs to keep out any debris and hazards,” Geoff said.

I could have bugged Geoff for hours – asking him morbidly curious questions I’m not mentioning in this blog post. After hearing his stories, I’m thankful the Bio Solutions crew is available to do a critical job that very few people could handle.


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