Mold Remediation: A Big-Ticket Business with Big-Ticket Considerations

April 15, 2002
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In my last article (Mold and the Workplace, ICS Cleaning Specialist, December 2001), we considered facts surrounding mold and the insurance industry. Here we'll consider mold remediation in your operation.

So, is it worth it to jump onto this litigation-driven, unregulated industry bandwagon? The answer is a resounding (if conditional) yes. This is a big-money business largely because it is a big-risky business. The good news is, if you invest time and attention toward adopting a few standards before you begin work, you can avoid the risks and reap the benefits. If insurance companies and homeowners look at these same criteria before choosing contractors, they'll find that they can get the job done efficiently and at reasonable cost.

First of All, Focus
Remediation is an industry specialization, not sideline or seasonal work. Employees need thorough training and the opportunity to develop a body of experience on the job. In addition, specialized equipment is required and must be decontaminated between jobs to avoid cross-contamination issues.

Don't Be the Fox Watching the Henhouse
At first glance, being the company that does it all-drying, testing, remediation, and build-back-would seem to be a client/adjuster's dream. However, insurance companies have learned expensive lessons over the last few years, and are now shying away from setting up these potential conflicts of interest:

  • Testing & Remediation-Testing methods vary and results are easily manipulated. It is vital that the testing company have no interest in the outcome so that appropriate scopes of work and clearance criteria are established.
  • Drying/Extracting & Remediation-Improper or untimely drying leads to mold problems. Don't be accused of creating remediation work for yourself.
  • Remediation & Rebuild-The more you tear out, the more you can build back and the greater the final invoice. Once again, don't be accused of trying to create more work for yourself.

    Cover Your Behind
    Insure, insure, insure. Think worst-case scenario, triple it, add two shakes of paranoia, then insure for that. Enough said.

    Get Trained
    Find a good mold school. It needs to be at least three days in length with 24 to 30 hours of instruction. Make sure it offers complete safety, communication, regulatory, legal and procedural training in classes that are small enough for you to get hands-on experience. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (www.iicrc.org) has developed a mold remediation training certification course beginning in the spring.

    Get yourself certified in related fields. The Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (www.ascr.org) has several institutes that can provide the additional certification and training you'll need. Remember: Learn as much as possible about mold, water damage and indoor air quality issues. Take as many continuing education courses you can get to.

    Join an industry organization such as IICRC and ASCR. The International Association of Mold Remediation Specialists (IAMRS, www.iamrs.com) is a new non-profit organization devoted to promoting competence and quality in mold mitigation and remediation, developing industry standards, and supporting its membership through education, training, and networking. IAMRS offers a Master Certified Remediator (MCR) designation.

    Have a Plan
    Develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) that covers safety protocols, OSHA and Haz-com requirements, documentation standards, and complete, detailed work procedures. Your SOP should include a contingency plan for every foreseeable circumstance. Having this SOP gives your client confidence in your ability to handle problems and helps ensure that you are ready to handle whatever comes up.

    Cover Your Behind. In Writing
    Document, document, document. Doing a good job is not enough. You must document in rosters, logs, correspondence, photographs, videotapes, etc., before, during, and after work. As your lawyer will happily tell you, if you didn't write it down, it didn't happen.

    Following these basic guidelines and spending the time and money to thoroughly educate yourself on mold issues and remediation techniques can promise you a lucrative and limited-risk future in this exciting new industry.

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