ABRA is an international, non-profit organization representing a growing segment of the biological hazard remediation industry.
What are ABRA’s objectives?
To achieve and maintain the highest levels of competence among members in the performance of their profession. To teach, instill and require the highest technical, ethical and educational standards.
What is the scope of services provided by members of ABRA?
Originally limited to crime and trauma scene cleaning, the scope of bio-recovery technicians and trauma waste practitioners has grown to include the decontamination of diseases associated with animal waste, bird waste, rodent waste, human waste, tissue and body fluids, mold, homes unfit for habitation, clandestine drug lab cleanup, communicable disease infection control, pickup and transport of medical waste, and remediation of bio-terrorism related contaminants (i.e. Anthrax).
What is the function of ABRA?
ABRA was established in 1996 to:
- Provide members with a conduit to exchange information.
- Set industry goals
- Establish technical, ethical and educational standards for the industry
- Educate the public about our industry
- Educate insurance adjusters about our industry
- Provide a 24-Hour toll-free phone service to assist callers in locating bio-recovery assistance from our members.
Can I have an employee of my business clean the scene?
Federal Regulation 29CFR1910.1030 states that no employee can be placed in a position to be exposed to blood spills without first:
- Receiving blood-borne pathogen (BBP) training
- Having a written BBP exposure control plan
- Having been provided personal protective equipment
- Having been offered Hepatitis B vaccine and exposure evaluation and follow-up
- Being provided with a method to remove and properly store the bio-hazardous waste in properly marked containers for disposal at an approved site
Only after these five steps have been met can an employee be required by his or her employer to clean a bio-hazardous/crime scene.
Who pays for bio-recovery services?
Ultimately, the property owner is responsible for the cost of this service. In most cases, however, home, business or auto insurance will pay for bio-recovery services. If the victim of a crime has no insurance the Crime Victims Board may be in a position to authorize and pay for bio-recovery services.
Can’t I just use my regular cleaning or janitorial service to clean up blood or pathological waste?
You can IF you are absolutely positive that your janitorial service is fully compliant with the 5 OSHA requirements. You cannot legally shift responsibility for proper remediation to another person. You remain liable for fines and penalties and possible legal actions by employees.
H1N1 Flu Claims Life of Pennsylvania Paramedic, Exposure Suspected BY LIZ ZEMBA Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)
As a paramedic and dispatcher with a Fayette County ambulance service, David P. Sechrist dedicated his life to helping others.
The 30-year-old Vanderbilt man died Saturday of complications from the H1N1 flu, according to his family.
Despite his untimely passing, Sechrist continues to help others, with his death raising awareness of the importance of flu shots, his family said.
“He got H1N1 from direct contact, so it had to be from somebody in this area,” said his father, Rod Sechrist of Dawson.
“Hopefully, we’ll help somebody else,” he said. “H1N1 is a big misconception at this point. Even at the hospital, they said they hadn’t seen H1N1 in months.”
Flu cases are on the rise in Pennsylvania, according to the state health department’s most recent report.
As of the week ending Feb. 12, there were 1,898 flu cases reported, up from the previous week’s tally of 1,632. Flu activity is statewide, but the department noted “significant increases were reported in the southwestern regions.”
Of 45 flu specimens sent to the state lab for testing, 60 percent were the H1N1 virus, according to the department’s website. Five deaths statewide were attributed to flu complications during the same reporting period, including one child.
David Sechrist’s struggle with H1N1 prompted some of his co-workers at Fayette EMS to take advantage of free flu shots available through the ambulance company, said Director Rick Adobato. Adobato said the shot is one of the best ways to prevent flu, but many people opt not to receive one.
“My employees are just as guilty, including David,” Adobato said, indicating David Sechrist had not been vaccinated.
“We’ve been putting shots in arms all week,” Adobato said. “It’s a hell of a wake-up call.”
This year’s flu vaccine protects against three strains of the flu virus, including H1N1, said Holli Senior, spokeswoman with the state health department. She said plenty of vaccine is still available.
“Flu season is not over,” Senior said. “In January, February and March, we see a large number of flu cases.”
This year, the health department is recommending the shots to everyone, not just the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. One reason for the change, Senior said, is the fact younger people have been found to be susceptible to the H1N1 virus.
David Sechrist’s battle with H1N1 began with mild cold symptoms, according to his father. Within just 36 hours, David Sechrist was so ill he was placed in intensive care in a Pittsburgh hospital. A Facebook page created by his family drew thousands of supporters who prayed for his recovery.
The life-and-death struggle marked the second time the Fayette man had battled a potentially deadly health condition.
Rod Sechrist said his son beat POEMS syndrome, a rare blood disease, after a five-month hospitalization and stem-cell transplant in 2004. The illness left David Sechrist with partial vision in one eye and limited movement in his lower legs, but it didn’t stop him from obtaining a degree in echocardiography from Community College of Allegheny County in 2009.
Rod Sechrist said his son was offered a job in echocardiography, but he turned it down.
“He decided his heart was in EMS,” Rod Sechrist said.
Adobato said Fayette EMS will give flu shots to anyone who wants one, as long as they have vaccine available. Senior said the shots are available at various other locations, including doctors’ offices and businesses that host flu-shot clinics.
While the vaccine won’t guarantee immunity from the flu, Senior said, it can result in less severe symptoms in those who develop it.
“You can’t get flu from the flu shot,” she said. “That’s a myth.”
While BioRecovery is a niche within the larger restoration industry, it is a true specialty that should not be undertaken without specific training. There are three scenarios that we often see in this industry that we are working hard to change.
The first is restoration professionals who specialize in fire, water or mold damage that decide to start doing crime scene cleanup without taking additional training. While they may be proficient in their areas of expertise, they are often unaware of the chemistry, microbiology and techniques necessary to properly and economically remediate a blood-spill scene.
The second is individuals who decide to open a crime scene cleanup business without the benefit of proper training. Although they may mean well, they are actually putting families at risk of disease exposure and further emotional trauma.
Third, is crime scene cleanup companies who have been in business for years who don't stay abreast of the changes in the industry. It is shocking to discover how little many technicians know about the science behind what they are doing. ABRA is working to improve this industry as well as protect the public from untrained or poorly trained service providers by promoting the ABRA training certification program to the insurance industry, governments, and potential clients as the pinnacle of proficiency…..and its working! Each day we hear national property management companies, insurance companies and others actually specify that their service providers be ABRA CERTIFIED!
Three ABRA-approved independent training centers keep our members abreast of the latest techniques, products, chemicals and processes through ABRA-approved courses. See our "training" page for details.