The Standard Journal

Crime scene cleanup crews would have to be licensed under new bill

- By Diane Wagner Rome News-Tribune

Companies that clean up messy crime scenes contaminat­ed with body fluids and human waste would have to be licensed by the GBI under legislatio­n making its way through the legislatur­e.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, is a co-sponsor of House Bill 149. It also calls for the state Environmen­tal Protection Division to establish rules and regulation­s for training workers and disposing of potentiall­y infectious material.

“Sometimes you have people doing this type of thing, going into homes, with criminal background­s,” Lumsden said. “This is an attempt to put some safeguards in place.”

Floyd County Coroner Barry Henderson said his job deals with the body. The scene itself is turned over to police, who eventually release it to the property owner.

“We do refer families to specialty cleanup companies,” Henderson said. “There are several in our area rated for hazardous waste disposal.”

There are numerous services that will come in and clean up biohazard areas, said Floyd County Assistant Chief of Police Mark Wallace, but it’s also important to track how they dispose of the materials.

“You don’t want a fly-by-night company coming in; you want to make sure they know what they’re doing,” he said.

Lumsden said HB 149 takes a comprehens­ive approach.

The $200 GBI license would be required as of July 1, in addition to any other licenses a company may have. To get it, employees would have to undergo criminal background checks and annual drug testing. The companies also would have to carry liability insurance and post a $100,000 bond.

The GBI would track compliance and maintain a list of licensees for local police, public health and other agencies.

By Jan. 1, 2019, the EPD also would have regulation­s in place regarding removal and disposal of body fluids, parts and items such as bandages, needles and protective gear that could be contaminat­ed. Annual training for work- ers would be part of the rules.

Lumsden said he expects the legislatio­n to be tweaked before it comes up for a vote. It is currently in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, which is chaired by the bill’s author, Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell.

“We hear from people who think they may be affected by the bill and try to address the core issues,” Lumsden said. “This is all part of the process.”

He also noted that there are changes underway at the federal level regarding environmen­tal regulation­s that may need to be incorporat­ed. “It’s a work in progress,” he said. The House reconvenes at 10 a. m. Tuesday for the 13th day of its 40-day annual session.

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