No PPE? Contents Pros Say, “Bad Idea!”
Some years ago, we recall seeing an image published in newspapers and magazines of a local political figure from a nearby town walking through an apartment in which Ebola (one of the most virulent and deadly viruses on the planet) had been detected.
The man was in a short-sleeved shirt, no mask, no coveralls, no PPE of any kind.
Next to him were a contents team in full hazmat gear, who were performing a particularly tricky cleanup and disinfection.
Some critics were quick to point out the disparity between the way the contents pros and the public official were dressed. Some even mocked the specialists for being overly cautious, in spite of the fact that the World Health Organization has found Ebola fatality rates of up to 90%.
Oddly, some homeowners have recently disparaged contents teams who wear masks, Tyvek coveralls, gloves and protective footwear when cleaning and removing soot and mold-covered detritus from disaster-impacted residences.
They feel that since the owners and their children have entered and left the home several times without any overtly sustained injury, then the frontline workers should be able to do the same (even though the family members complain of gritty, bloodshot eyes, headaches, persistent cough, etc.)
Contents specialists use H.E.P.A. air scrubbers, PPE, and even temporary containment chambers, etc., to prevent cross-contamination, and to protect the staff, so they can complete the assignment unharmed. Breathing in mold, soot, viruses and other harmful particulates is not part of any job description, and the precautions they take are there to keep everyone safe.
To some they may appear “silly.” But to the trained eye they look like what they are – men and women who know what they are doing. If an adjuster or agent should happen to visit such a site, it is not uncommon for the contents pros to share their safety measures – that is the way professionals proceed.
Creating Trust Makes Things Easier
Any adjuster can tell you that an insured who trusts the insurance company, its representatives and those who have been chosen to restore the home or office is much easier to work with than one who is angry, fearful and upset.
The contents pros know this as well and make it a point to help ease the policy holder through the process. Constant updates, pictures, transparency and even emotional support are hallmarks of a well-trained and experienced contents team.
We even search for times and ways that a homeowner or office manager can have a sense of “agency” during the process. As an example, we hold early morning meetings (sometimes by computer or cell phone) in which he (she) gets updates, shares concerns and even gives approval of one part of the job or another before we move to the next stage.
We don’t require such incremental approval to perform in an outstanding manner, but we offer them the opportunity in order to give a sense of control, where none may have existed before.
Contents Pros Choose Safer Solutions
Well, it happened again, the International Marine Contractors Assn., just published an article about an untrained worker who mixed bleach and toilet cleaner together, releasing fumes that ultimately led to his being diagnosed with “chemical bronchitis.”
The contents pros receive extensive training concerning cleaning products and the risks of their ingredients – including the ingredients in a cleaning or disinfectant product, the release of mists, vapors or gases, contact with skin and even ventilation in the home or office where it will be used.
Cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants are often separate products with vastly different properties. The contents specialists always choose the least hazardous solution that will work on the assignment before them. And, in point of fact because of the risks involved with many disinfectants, unless the job calls for them, the pros will use cleansers instead.
There Aren’t Enough of Us
You may have noticed that it is getting harder to find well-trained, well-educated and experienced contents teams of late. Some adjusters have found it necessary to ignore the normal rotation of their vendor lists and to choose companies that can actually get the job done. It has always been frustrating for them to have to make several calls in order to find a team that can say, “yes” when everyone else is saying, “I’m sorry, we don’t do the sort of thing you are asking for.”
As more and more agents and adjusters discover what teams like ours can do, the more they ask for our assistance. That is why, once they discover our expertise, they keep us close for the next assignment.