Branding 28
topThe Insider
News for Death Care Professionals
Vol. II - VIII
Greetings! Welcome to
the new INSIDER newsletter.
We've been working on several projects to better promote the WCCFA and our members, and to enhance the value of your membership in the association.
Our web site is undergoing a complete re-design using newer, more user-friendly software. Its contents are being updated and improved. We have obtained the domain name "wccfa" to better enable people to find us. A new feature will be an interactive membership directory with links to your web sites, catalogs, or whatever else you want the end-user to connect to. We will shortly be soliciting your input for the directory.
Along with that web site rebuild, we have re-branded the association. We have designed all-new logos and a new color scheme, making their debut here!
And, at the urging of many of you**, we are exploring the possibility of developing a campaign to enhance the value of the death care profession in the eyes of the consumer. We all know what kind of rap death care tends to get... the 0.5% who run afoul of ethics or the law often muddy the waters for the rest of us. Instead of ducking and carrying on with business as usual we need to go public with just what it is we are here to provide families in need... our compassion and care. For the truth is, we are not only professional death care providers, but we are professional caregivers.
Stay tuned!  
**A survey was emailed 11/4 to cemetery and funeral home owners and managers requesting input on this.

A Cemeterian's Best Friend,
Part Deux

By Paul Elvig, Cemetery Law Expert-at-Large


Today's advice: Memorize this Cemeterian's Best Friend: RCW 68.32.060 Family plot - sale. There is a lot of interesting stuff in this one.


Looking at the RCW [Revised Code of Washington} we learn what a "Family Plot" is. In doing so we should always keep in mind that state cemetery laws can be very laws go. Prior to statehood cemetery laws came with "territorial" government control, much of it reflecting old English common law governing cemeteries and their independent authority. That is where this business of a cemeterian having the "authority of a police officer" comes. from. Try reading RCW 68.56.060. You will be surprised at your privileges!


With the aforementioned in mind, one wonders at terms used and the focus found in present law. Even within the RCW Title and Rights to Cemetery Plots we find varying amendments that, when read in full, cause one to ask "Where did THAT come from?" I won't bore you with details of cemetery law development, but I will point out where oddities exist or understanding may be difficult.


"RCW Title and Rights to Cemetery Plots Family Plot - Sale. Whenever an interment of the human remains of a member or of a relative of a member of the family of the record owner or of the remains of the record owner is made in a plot transferred by deed or certificate of ownership to an individual owner and both the owner and the surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner, if any, die with children then living without making disposition of the plot either by a specific devise, or by a written declaration filed and recorded in the office of the cemetery authority, the plot shall thereafter be held as a family plot and shall be subject to sale only upon agreement of the children of the owner living at the time of sale."


Let's look at this!


The long and short of it: kids of the original owner may upon agreement amongst themselves sell the unused graves in a so-called family plot. The original owner is the one who got the certificate of ownership from the cemetery in the first place (plot transferred by deed or certificate). If the original owner(s) has/have not made disposition of graves within the plot while living, recording the same with the cemetery authority, the plot becomes a "family plot". Even burying "...a relative of a member of the family of record" kicks in the "family plot" protection clause. Come again? Read on!


"Family plot" has been a near-sacred term in very old cemetery law. "Family plots" originally could not be cut up by second generation individuals once a signal burial was made within. The "Family plot" was hallowed family ground. (If you find these things interesting, take time to research Thomas Jefferson's Family Plot battles on the other coast.) It was not until changes were made to the RCW during the 2005 and 2007 sessions of the Washington state legislature that liquidating unused "Family plot" graves became rather "easy" to do.


The definition of "family" also has evolved within RCW 68.32.060 "...or state registered domestic partner" was added in 2005 broadening the meaning of "family." A most important note should be made for all cemeterians regarding the broadened definition just mentioned. When presented with information that one is a "registered domestic partner" or when told that the married couple is of the same sex be sure you follow the same standard you have been doing with marriage declarations made before the law changed. Don't...I repeat...don't challenge such declarations by asking for proof while you don't ask for such in other cases. That would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

 Wilbert Precast PNG

While my explanation for RCW 68.32.060 Family plot - Sale may seem to have wandered, it did so to demonstrate the built-in problems of reading most cemetery law. You are reading a mix of old and new definitions against an evolving understanding of the role a cemetery plays within our communities. Did you need an attorney to tell you this? No, just use your head...something I have hammered away at in each of the previous articles. Use your head...check with your attorney, then use your  head.


Editor reiterates: Don't be bullied by a know-it-all attorney, either. If your common sense gives rise to questions about instructions an attorney may be giving you, ask for the specific citation in the RCW that grants him the authority to so direct.


Next in line we will deal with Co-Owners May Designate Representatives, Waiver of Right of Placement, and the most exciting of all, Order of Interment - General.


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Ten tips for winterizing your property 


One of the most important - and often neglected - winter maintenance tips for cemetery managers is proper winterization of the property. Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of U.S. Lawns, provides some steps cemetery management can take to make sure their properties are properly maintained through the winter months and ready to flourish with minimum hassle in the spring.


1. Clear gutters of debris. It is important to clean out your buildings' gutters before snow and ice begin to accumulate. Clogged gutters can cause standing water, which when frozen, can damage or destroy the gutters. Above-freezing temperatures make standing water in gutters prime breeding grounds for insects and pests.


2. Maintain building heat. Maintaining heat throughout the winter, even in buildings not often used, can protect against pipe damage, and can be far less expensive than repairing freeze damage. Burst pipes can cause significant damage to buildings, surrounding property and landscapes. If your building has a fire suppression system, it is essential that heat be maintained during the colder months.


3. Remove snow and ice. Snow and ice can inhibit visitors by blocking access to buildings or covering walkways. Heavy snow can cause damage to structures as it promotes leaking and cracking of building foundations. Failure to maintain walkways can lead to slip and fall accidents. For properties without professional landscape maintenance, it is important to budget properly, keeping in mind that clearing snow and ice can involve significant man hours.


4. Create a windbreak. A windbreak can create a wind reduction of up to 50 percent, which protects visitors and can reduce heating fuel use for buildings. Landscape professionals who excel at this work can determine the correct location of the windbreak, the types of trees to plant and the proper spacing of the trees.


5. Winterize the irrigation system. The benefits of winterizing an irrigation system far outweigh the costs. When properly implemented, winterizing can help increase the life of pipe fittings, pipes, pumps, sprinklers, valves and other parts of irrigation systems. Frozen irrigation pipes are likely to burst and cause leaking or flooding once ice and snow melt. Burst pipes are one of the most common, and costly, effects of failing to properly winterize.


6. Drain water features. Although water features such as fountains or waterfalls can remain running throughout the winter, if your property is located in a very cold area, it is best to drain them to prevent water from freezing and breaking the motor. If the water features are drained, the motor should be removed and stored in a warm area submerged in water so as to prevent seals from cracking.


7. Prepare vegetation. This will save money and can help


 reduce potential spring stresses. Many plants cannot handle winter temperatures and should be dug out of the ground. Some flowers cannot withstand the cold, and many more die after just one frost. Bulbs that cannot handle the cold should be dug out and left in a cool, dark space.


8. Fortify hardier plants. Plants and bulbs that can withstand cold or freezing temperatures should be kept under cover, which will allow them to withstand lower temperatures than they are traditionally meant to weather. Applying a layer of clean mulch over frozen ground will insulate garden beds and raise the internal temperature of the bulbs. Add another layer of compost every few weeks for extra "burn heat" during the coldest times.


9. Dethatching. Remove all organic debris that settles around grass blades as this will help keep away pests and parasites that could otherwise harbor there and infect nearby plants, flowers, trees and shrubs. Clearing the debris after a hard frost will  help ensure that plants will not start growing again. Plants that do start to grow again should be cut back.


10. Follow up. Once winterization has been performed, it is important to conduct follow up inspections to ensure that the property  has not frozen, that pipes have not burst and that vegetation is on track to survive the winter months.


Article from American Cemetery magazine for October 2013 reproduced in its entirety with permission.


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DOL Funeral/Cemetery Board met September 10 


Link HERE to a draft copy of the meeting minutes.


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Meet the Director: 

Megan Carlson Field


Megan Carlson Field is one of the WCCFA's two newly-elected Directors. We sent Megan some questions to enable the membership to get to know her better. Here's what she shared with us.


How did you get into the death-care profession, and when?


I was raised in the death-care profession. My grandpa Will Carlson purchased the cemetery in 1968 and then built the funeral chapel in 1974. My dad is now the General Manager and my mom has worked in the business office all my life. I made the decision to become a funeral director when I was a junior at the University of Washington, around 2003.


What was your first position? What is it now?


My first official position at the funeral chapel was death certificate courier. Now I am a funeral director and Vice President of Cemetery Operations.


What keeps you in the profession?


I love helping people. People don't last long in this profession if that's not their main goal.


Any particular experiences that stand out in your mind?


I have many wonderful memories of my work so far in the funeral profession. What stands out the most in my memory though is the connection that I make with the families that I serve. I have a few favorites in mind and their faces continue to bring a smile to my face.


Any special traditions at your funeral home or cemetery (holiday memorial services, Memorial Day, Veterans' Day, etc.)?


For two years now we have put on a Memorial Day event in our Veterans' Lawn. My sister organizes it and this last year we even had the Vancouver Community Concert Bank. The American Veterans' Honor Guard and Boy Scouts do a wonderful flag ceremony and our speaker has always done an amazing job! We also hold a Veterans' Memorial Service about once a month. It's our chance to honor those veterans that did not receive military honors at the time of their death. We have a chaplain speak, a bagpiper plays patriotic tunes and representatives from Joint Base Lewis-McChord ring a bell after each veteran's name is read.


Professional goals?Sightlife 6-2013


I'm thrilled that I have recently achieved one of my professional goals by joining the WCCFA board. On a day-to-day level, I very strongly see the value in memorialization and permanent placement of cremated remains in a cemetery. It's my goal to make sure funeral directors understand its significance and for them to pass this knowledge on to the families they serve. With the cremation rates as high as they are in our part of the country, I think it's our duty to make sure we're communicating all of the options to the families and make sure they consider the long term effects of scattering or taking the urn home with them.


How do you reach out to the community?


I love doing volunteer work and would like to do still more. For five years or so I have participated in the Stop Kids Intoxicated Driving (S.K.I.D. program) at local high schools. For the last few  years I have been a mentor at a local elementary school for the 5th grade girls in the Young Women in Action Program. For longer than that I have participated  in their program by visiting them on Professional Day to have the kids guess my profession through a What's My Line kind of setup (I usually have to give them some hints). I then get a chance to talk about whit it is that I do. I enjoy attending Chamber of Commerce events and supporting local organizations through Evergreen Memorial Gardens. I've also participated in the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.) program and different meetings at Loaves and Fishes to educate seniors on the importance of preplanning their funeral and cemetery arrangements. We inform them of the laws in Washington State and answer any questions they may have.


What would you tell someone who was thinking about joining death care?


I am so excited to meet anyone that's thinking about joining the death-care profession. I would first communicate to them that it is more than just a job. Your heart truly has to be in it. Then I would want to make sure they understood the time commitment it takes on a daily basis. The work is not done just because the because the clock says 5:00. It's exhausting work but extremely rewarding!


On the personal side we asked Megan a few questions as well:


Family - kids?


I married my sweet husband, Doug, in July 2012. We have two furry children (cats) and are expecting Baby Field to be here at the end of February 2014.


Hobbies - personal interests?


Even though I work with my mom, dad and sister, I still enjoy spending time with them in my free time! I love my nephews so much and try to find any excuse to see them. Besides family, my husband and I enjoy spending time with friends and exploring different communities. Doug is an engineering student so we don't have too much of an opportunity to get away, but when we do, we like to head down to our family's home in central Oregon or to have a weekend away at the coast.


Anything else?


I very much appreciate the opportunity to serve on the WCCFA board and hope to represent the organization well!


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The Art of Cremation Phone Inquiries: 3 Steps to Better Client Decisions 

Henry, who had battled cancer for the last 15 months, was ready for the conversation about his end of life wishes.


He told his wife, "I don't want you or the kids to make a big deal when the time comes. Keep things simple. Just cremate me." And when Henry did pass, his wife felt lost. What was she supposed to ask the funeral home?


Unsure, she dialed up three funeral homes and asked them the only question she knew to ask: "How much is a direct cremation?"


The first funeral director assumed she was a price shopper, gave he a price, and hung up.


The second funeral director thought a direct cremation would keep her weekend plans in place, so she gave her the lowest price and hung up.


The third funeral director simply didn't have time to help Henry's wife, so he also gave her the lowest price and hung up the phone.


Dos this situation sound familiar at your funeral home? Well, fear no more! Lacy Robinson from Aurora Casket Company shares some ways to build credibility and create a relationship from the moment you answer the phone. Red on to find ways to transform an average cremation inquiry into a real conversation with families.


"Are they dead yet? Are they a pet or human?"

lees ad 2012-13 for web



Unfortunately, when Lacy Robinson mystery called many funeral homes across the country, this is what she got as a response when she asked how much cremation would cost. Instead of asking unprofessional, impersonal questions like this, she suggests asking discover questions that help you learn more about the family instead of just giving them a price.


For example, you could ask the family if this is the first cremation they're planning in their family. Or, you can ask how they came to select cremation for their loved one. The idea is to uncover traditions in their family, and to build on those. If there aren't any traditions in the family, they need you to create a unique tradition in their family.


"What type of cremation do you want?"


This is the most ineffective question you can ask someone on the phone. They probably don't even know what type of cremation options there are. Instead, try asking "Have you given thought to how you want to honor your mother's life?" This encourages an open-ended response from the inquirer and encourages them to continue the conversation with you and choose something other than just a direct cremation.


"A direct cremation will cost you X dollars."


The best way to ensure a family will never call your funeral home for a memorable celebration of life is to simply give them the price of your direct cremation. Instead, try saying "Our prices range from X dollars to X dollars. Has anyone taken the time to explain the different services that come with cremation?" This shows that you care enough about this family to take the time to share the information they need. Almost always, the answer to that question will be "no". Be that funeral home who does take the time to build a relationship with this person, rather than sending them on their way with a simple price.


Click here to continue reading

The Shelf Life of a Salesman 


Following is an article written by his co-worker Sandi Colleton, sales manager at Evergreen-Washelli, on the occasion of Bob Stoner's 74th birthday in 2012. At that time he had not been diagnosed with the cancer that eventually took his life this past week, on October 28. Bob was the featured employee of the quarter in the Gibraltar Remembrance Services company newsletter, The Rock, in its first quarter 2012 edition. Gibraltar is the parent company of Evergreen-Washelli. Sandi is a former journalist and obviously an excellent writer and keen observer of the human psyche. We thank Sandi for sharing
this with the WCCFA.


Salesman. Licensed Embalmer and Funeral Director. Fish Dancer. Salmon Fisherman. Boccelli Fan. Devoted Family Man. Friend to Many. Philosopher to Anyone Who Will Listen. To those who know him,

this quick snapshot portrays an instant image in our minds of the one and only Bob Stoner. To those who haven't yet had the privilege to know him, pour yourself a cup of coffee and let me tell you how Bob Stoner came to be, well, Bob Stoner. It's an interesting tale.


Seventy four years ago today, on March 6, 1938, Bob was born in a postage stamp-sized town called Henry, Illinois. In the 4th grade, Bob's dad abandoned the family, leaving his mom to raise 3 kids as a single parent back in the day when women's job opportunities were far less lucrative and available than they are today. There were no social services; extended family was a single mom's only safety net. He was sent to live for a while with his step-grandfather on a farm 12 miles outside of town. After spending his early life in the booming metropolis of Henry spoiled by amenities such as electricity and paved roads, Bob considered himself a "town boy"; he found farm life not much to his liking. Tired of waking to the chickens and going to bed at dusk when the battery powered radio was silenced for the night, he dreamt of the day when he could take the "hard road" (paved, as opposed to gravel) back into town to rejoin his mom and siblings.


Bob was an athletic youth and spent countless hours playing sports with his chums once he was finally able to move back to Henry. Only 4 short days after his high school graduation, Bob began college at Western Illinois University, where he spent the next 5 years majoring in Comparative Beer Studies. In this largely German-American community, Bob says, "one could drink beer for breakfast and no one would even bat an eye, and so, I often did." Bob did not graduate. One of his few regrets in life is that he did not take better care of himself physically during this era. Had he not let his conditioning lapse, his athletic prowess might've earned him a place on the basketball team if his "immaturity and beer belly hadn't gotten in the way".


According to Bob, even though his college career was less than it might have been, it also provided him the opportunity of a lifetime: it was there that he met The Redhead. Bob fell head over heels for Missy and they were married in 1959 between freshman and sophomore years. Like every couple who have weathered more than 50 years of marriage they've had their share of family drama of both the good and not so good kinds. But they've stuck together and Bob is still crazy about his crazy Redhead. Together they raised 3 daughters who bore them 6 grandkids. "You can stop now", Bob quipped to his girls after the 6th grandchild was born, "we've got enough already for pall bearers." They're working on the next generation now as Bob and Missy welcomed their first great-grandchild last year.


While in college Bob began working part-time for Missy's grandfather Fred Dodsworth, who was a part owner of Dodsworth, Piper and Wallen Mortuary in Macomb, Illinois. In 1961 and '62, Bob attended Warsham's College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, where he became a licensed embalmer and funeral director. Bob proudly states that he was inducted into the Mu Sigma Alpha Honorary Embalming School Fraternity.

Bob loved the one on one compassionate service to families that funeral directing provided. He tried to buy out one of Fred's partners, who refused to sell the business to him. Full of disappointment and perhaps a bit full of himself as well, Bob quit the family business in 1966 and decided to take a job selling embalming fluid instead on a route that took him around the Midwest.

 premier 2013-2014 for web

What he really wanted to do was to work for Batesville Casket but they wouldn't hire him. When asked why he so desperately wanted to work for Batesville, he did not hesitate in his response. Bob said, "Well it wasn't because I had a burning desire to sell caskets. I had heard all about The Farm where the booze was free, and I knew that Batesville would be the perfect employer for me!"


He stuck out the route sales job selling embalming fluid for 9 more months, but he never gave up his quest to get hired on at Batesville. Persistence paid off, and on January 16, 1967 he began his "Party Years", as he now refers to his 30-year career at Batesville Casket. He did very well at Batesville and grew with the company-there was a definite party culture there during the early years, drinking was encouraged, and Bob fit right in. He got promoted many times and spent 6 years in sales management. Bob was the first recipient of the coveted John W. Hillenbrand Award after his 5th year of employment. Later in his 15th year he received the Batesville's Masters Award.


Somewhere along the way, though, he hit rock bottom. Bob is very open about his battle with alcoholism. His "other birthday" is even more important to him than March 6th. September 22, 1972 marks his first day sober after his 13-year drinking career. Thirty-nine years later, Bob openly shares his stories, his wisdom. He has helped many people find the courage to fight their own battle with the bottle (or beat other addictions); his example has been a beacon for many, including past and present EW employees or their family members. He may not have earned a bachelor's degree in his college days however he has certainly earned his Ph.D. in Life.


 Click here to continue reading

Get your 2014 music license now! 


We have again joined forces with the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association's Music Coalition. We are pleased to inform you that your membership in the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association now entitles your company to music licensing with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for only $258 for the 2014 calendar year. If you have not already purchased or renewed your Music License for 2012, simply complete the 2014 Music License Application and return it to ICCFA with payment, and your music license requirement for 2014 will be covered. Please note that the $258 price will be in effect until January 25, 2014. After January 25, the price increases to $270 per location.  


Click here for application form.


Music licensing is the law, and failure to obtain a license where one is required can be costly: Copyright law provides for damages similar to fines of up to $30,000 for each song that is infringed. If your cemetery, regardless of size, hosts performances of copyrighted music - whether the music is performed live or played from recordings - music copyright owners say you are legally required to pay an annual licensing fee.


Click here for application form.


As a partner in the Music License Coalition, WCCFA now provides our member companies the opportunity to be in full compliance with the law and ensure you are covered for any music a client family might request. Licensing directly with the agencies this year would cost nearly $600 per location, so the Coalition price, which requires no additional membership fee, is still the lowest available in the funeral industry.


Click here for application form.


The Music License Coalition is a partnership of numerous associations representing the cemetery, cremation and funeral service industry and administered by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. Its goal is simply to continue to attract more licensees, thereby increasing compliance within the profession and qualifying for even bigger volume discounts in the future - so your company can save even more money!


Click here for application form.


Please note that if you receive another 2014 Music License Coalition Renewal notice for $258 licensing from another Coalition organization, you only need to pay once and you can simply remit payment with whichever invoice you choose. Some cemeteries may be on more than one Music License Coalition partner membership list. As long as you pay the low $258 fee for each location where music is played, you can rest assured your company will be covered with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for 2014.


Click here for application form.


If you have any questions, please call us at 360.668.2120. We look forward to your participation and support of the WCCFA/Music License Coalition program.


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Washington state Department of Health releases 2012 mortality statistics 




The 2012 mortality data for Washington State has been finalized.  Attached you will find three reports:  1) counts by funeral home, 2) counts by autopsy and disposition by county of residence, and 3) counts by autopsy and disposition by county of occurrence.


Please feel free to contact me if your e-mail address has changed or if you would like to have anyone else from your facility or department receive these reports.  Also let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with.



Amy J. Poel


Center for Health Statistics

PO Box 47814

Olympia, WA 98504

Phone:  (360) 236-4326

Fax:  (360) 753-4135

Physical Location:  101 Israel Road SE (Town Center 1) Tumwater, WA


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Are you ready for your close-up? 


September 25, 2013 by LA ads - A Marketing Agency © 2013


As more and more funeral service businesses are becoming empowered via the Internet, a few have begun to master one of its most powerful capabilities: video. Video is the total experience, sight and sound, movement, music and magic, dare I say...Hollywood! But also like Hollywood productions, there are a lot of worthy targets for well-aimed tomatoes.


Before we go there, let's start with a few factoids about what video brings to the party:

  • Web pages with video attract 2-3 times as many monthly visitors, double time on-site, and achieve a massive increase in organic traffic from search engines (source: Marketing Sherpa).
  • For online retailers, site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors (source: comScore). 89 million people in the United States are going to watch 1.2 billion online videos today. (ComScore)
  • Online video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016. (Cisco)
  • Globally, online video traffic will be 55 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2016. (Cisco)
  • 52 percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions. (Invodo)

So if you're not using video in your website and building a YouTube channel, perhaps you should. Like really should!


What kind of videos? Start with what's meaningful from your audience's point of view.  Why are they on your website to begin with? What are their interests that intersect with yours? Not everything needs to be about funerals and death (but there is certainly interest in that too). Consider that if you're trying to attract Baby Boomers, nostalgia is a big pull. We discovered that one of our clients, Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuaries, had produced a sales video in the 1950s starring - are you ready - Jerry Mathers and Hugh Beaumont several years before they starred in Leave It To Beaver. This was the perfect video to mount onto YouTube and their website to attract Boomers. We made sure to lead the presentation with a current television commercial so we could get a contemporary message in there.  Take a look.


Here are some possible areas of interest relevant to folks over 50:

  • Health Care - As each of us ages, our bodies start behaving differently.  Staying healthy and living longer is how we all want to stay on the more productive side of the funeral home chapel.
  • Elder Care - Boomers are caring for their aging parents and are using the Internet for ideas of where and how to do so.  Why not create a series featuring advice on issues affecting Boomers and their parents - which includes, of course, discussion of "that most difficult conversation"?
  • Destination Travel - With 70% of the disposable income in their hands Boomers are traveling more, especially as they move into retirement age.  What are the coolest cemeteries at their destinations (New Orleans, as an example)?  What are the funeral traditions in different cultures?
  • Retirement & Estate Planning - This is obvious, and popular for live seminars, but not many funeral homes or cemeteries have done much with these topics online.  Like the seminars, perhaps you can partner with estate attorneys or CPAs to put together a video series.
  • Legacy - Seniors especially want to feel that their time on earth has made a different.  Offering guidelines for how to leave a legacy or tell one's life story is of interest and value.  Here's an example.
Link here to continue reading.

Are you online?

Cemetery marketing

for the 21st century 


Online marketing continues to change how people shop and buy, and those that refuse to acknowledge this - even cemeteries - do so at their own peril.


Jack Welch, former CEO and chairman of General Electric, in referring to e-marketing, told The Sunday Times of London, "Any company, old or new, that does not see this technology as important as breathing could be on its last breath."


Taking Welch's prediction to heart, it's time to recognize the importance of online marketing. But many cemeteries don't know where to start.


One of the easiest ways for cemeteries to engage in online marketing is through display advertising or dealer program advertising. Display advertising usually involves purchasing a banner advertisement on the website of an online publication. Dealer program advertising involves selling the products or services of another, associated, company. With a dealer program, a cemetery can sit back and collect money while the parent company does all the order processing.


A cemetery website could have affiliate banners or links to crematoriums, mortuaries, monument companies, florists, churches, ministers and even party rooms where wakes may be held. Offering links to these other businesses or services on your website will generate additional revenue and provide valuable services to your families.


But buying display advertising and identifying partners to work with is just the first step in bringing your cemetery into the 21st century. You also need to learn about search engine optimization and social media marketing.


The importance of SEO and Social Media


Search engine optimization techniques improve the visibility of a website via unpaid (usually organic or algorithmic) search results. If you have a small budget, you can still boost website traffic by focusing on SEO, which focuses on the words someone might plug into a search engine such as Google or Bing. If someone is searching for a cemetery in Fargo, N.D., he or she might type "cemetery Fargo N.D." in a search engine. This search of specific keywords constitutes SEO.

 Pontem new 7-2013

Fred Miller, founder of Memorial Business Systems, in Franklin, Tenn., said, "Everyone is bad at SEO. If I could give advice on it, I'd be rich. I'd recommend that cemeteries outsource online advertising and websites. The sites will look more professional, and the results will be greater."


Mayra Ruiz, founder of Ruiz McPherson Communications in Herndon, VA., who provides marketing advice to death-care professionals at, said she sees various problems with cemetery websites. "Typical cemetery websites often suffer from one of the following ailments: stale, dated content; over-heavy focus on highlighting obituaries; lack of social media sharing; few (if any) calls to action; lack of analytics; and, the ailment that leads to all of these other ailments, usage of rudimentary website templates which do not portray a professional, high-end or aesthetic presentation," she said. "These ailments are symptoms of a much bigger issue: The cemetery's marketing investment in digital, social and Web is minimal. Experienced online marketing professionals can offer much better guidance in defining how to better optimize online marketing on behalf of the cemetery."


Social media marketing is the process of attracting attention through social media websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. You can harness the power of most social networking websites for free, and most of them offer paid options to help you boost your exposure to targeted markets.


Ruiz believes that all cemeteries should consider advertising on social media sites such as Facebook. "Facebook can provide cemetery marketers with unique, targeted demographics," she said. "Cemetery owners can target specific market segments, such as males 55-65 years of age with elderly parents living in zip code 20190. Facebook makes this kind of ad targeting possible.


Cemeteries throughout the country are recognizing the power of online marketing, including Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. "Sleepy Hollow has had a website for about 10 years, and it has changed the way we provide information to the public," said Jim Logan, president of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery board. "We actually have two websites. One,, focuses on the tourist aspect of visiting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and the other site,, serves as an informational website about events in the cemetery as well as our sales website."


One interesting sales tool on Sleepy Hollow's website is its Riverview Natural Burial Grounds. Selecting this link takes families to the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds Web page where prospective family buyers read, "Sleepy Hollow Cemetery has become part of a very small and elite group of burial places in the country, which afford the deceased a 'natural' or 'green' burial option. In simple terms, traditional burial would usually involve the use of chemical embalming, treated wood or metal caskets, metal or concrete casket liners, and a host of other manmade materials. In contract, the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds is a sustainable space. No inorganic fertilizers or pesticides are used on this land. There is no embalming. Only untreated biodegradable, natural materials may be used in the construction of the casket or shroud. Even cremation urns must be fabricated of organic materials such as corn starch, salt, or untreated woods."


Logan sees Sleepy Hollow's online marketing as "a significant way to reach out to the community and build active discussions about the cemetery and its future. We are a great depository of local history, and the Internet has helped us disperse this knowledge."

 Matthews 7-1-13

The proof is in the numbers: The number of unique website hits for Sleepy Hollow's website was about 35,000 in October 2012. And, even in a slow, winter month, there were 2,578 unique hits on the cemetery's website for December 2012. "It is difficult to track additional plot sales to website advertising," Logan said. "The death of a family member is a difficult time for people, and we don't want to be any more invasive than we already are by asking 'tracking' questions about how they heard about our cemetery. However, there is no question that e-marketing has increased Sleepy Hollow's presence in both the community and the country."


 Link here to continue reading.


Knock Knock

OSHA Deadline is Coming...Are You Ready?




Does Dec. 1, 2013, mean anything to you? It should. Failure to act by then could have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration knocking on your door.


A bit of history first. In March 2012, OSHA revised its 1983 Hazard Communication Standard by aligning it with the United Nations' global chemical communication system. To help firms comply with the revised standard, OSHA is phasing in the specific requirements over several years.


The first compliance date of the revised HCS is Dec. 1. By that date, employers must train all who come into contact with just one chemical in the workplace to understand how to interpret hazards communicated through pictograms and standardized material safety data sheets, now called safety data sheets, or SDS.


Government officials say the revision is a way to protect workers from hazardous chemicals, and once implemented, will prevent an estimated 43 deaths and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses - including cemeteries - each year.


"Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today," said U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis. "Revising OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace."


The revised standard is also expected to prevent an estimated 585 injuries and illnesses annually. "OSHA's 1983 Hazard Communication Standard gave workers the right to know. This update will give them the right to understand, as well," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.


Revised to align with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, the HCS will be fully implemented in 2016. Labor department officials say the revision will benefit workers by reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training and improving understanding of hazards, especially for low literacy workers.


OSHA's standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the United States and imported from abroad.


"This is the first big change in workplace safety regulations since the early 1980s," said Shannon DeCamp, client services manager with TechneTrain, which provides industry-specific OSHA compliance manuals and training programs nationwide. "If you use even one hazardous chemical in your workplace, this affects your business, and that includes cemetery operations."


DeCamp says it is important for cemetery operators and owners to understand the implications of the changes, and to begin transitioning their "Right-to-Know" program.


Still, DeCamp isn't sure that the word about the Dec. 1 deadline - or the revision to the HCS - is widely known. "A lot of people across all industries haven't heard about it," DeCamp noted. "We haven't been getting a flood of interest or questions, and what that says to me is that the word hasn't gotten out."


Robert Fells, executive director and general counsel of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association in Sterling, Va., agrees. "There hasn't been a lot of talk about it," he said. "We want everyone to be up to date with what is required; we want everyone to be in compliance ... The key for us is to make sure we get the word out and make sure our members have the information they need to be in compliance. We don't want anyone to be fined."


Under the old HCS, chemical manufacturers and importers were able to convey hazard information on labels and material safety data sheets in whatever format they chose, DeCamp said. The modified standard, in contrast, provides a single set of criteria for classifying chemicals according to 10 health and 16 specific physical hazards, and specifies hazards communication language for both labeling and safety data sheets.


DeCamp outlined the major changes to the HCS:


Hazard classification:

Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new, updated standard provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.


Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.

Safety data sheets:

The new format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information.


So what do employers have to do by the Dec. 1 deadline? According to OSHA, label elements and SDS must be completed by the deadline.


Link here for the rest of this article. 

Call for Speakers!

The 21st Annual Spring College will be held in March and we're looking for speakers and topics.
The College features three separate "tracks" of concurrent sessions which change hourly, allowing for up to 18 sessions in total. We cover cemetery operations, death-care issues, sales, governmental and legal affairs. We try to have all our presenters from within the association because who knows more about what we do than we do? 
Here are some of the requests and suggestions for topics and speakers from the last two years' worth of post-conference surveys. If you see a topic that's near and dear to your heart and would like to be a speaker, or have a speaker to suggest, please send email to
  • Panel of cemetery presidents and managers discussing their issues
  • Marker care
  • Office politics/inter-office drama
  • V.A. Benefits
  • How to work with TV and print news media - dos and don'ts
  • More from Elvig
  • Sales opportunities - 20 ideas in 20 minutes - door-knocking
  • Laws - rules - funeral director apprentices
  • Retired death-care employers
  • How media, public opinion, societal mores and government all contribute and dictate how one works in the profession
  • LGBT issues in family law in regards to next of kin rights of disposition
  • Burial at sea
  • Green funeral homes
  • OSHA, WISHA and funeral home standards
  • Celebrants
  • History of our profession
  • Mock legal setting
  • Cremation options
  • Marketing that works
  • Employee growth
  • More connection between funeral & cemeteries
  • More on governmental affairs & DOL
  • Embalming
  • Comparison between private and public cemeteries - different hoops

See you in the Spring!


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Bob Bob, continued

Bob wanted out of the corporate management world at Batesville and retired from his sales manager position. He was ready to simply enjoy selling up a storm in his own territory. However Batesville kept stalling, not wanting Bob to leave "the inner circle"; every time he requested a specific territory, his manager found a reason why Bob couldn't have it. But Bob's desire to get away from The Farm (as Batesville's Headquarters is called) finally prevailed, although it took some ingenuity on his part.

In May of 1973 Batesville had just opened up the new territory of Washington State, reclaiming it for their in house sales force; the previous arrangement was a sub-contractor sold their caskets for them on contract. Bob figured this was about as far from The Farm as he could get. He blindsided his manager with this completely unforeseen request to move to Washington. The poor guy was at a loss for words and couldn't think of a single rebuttal as to why Batesville wouldn't want to let him have this corner of the universe as his own. Go West, Young Man!


Bob and Missy arrived in Seattle to spend an ambitious three days getting acquainted with his new territory, meet the sub-contractor he was replacing, as well as look for a house. They wasted no time and bought their first Washington home in Bothell on day 2 in town, and then flew back to Indiana on the 3rd day. They hoped for a stress-free and leisurely move over the next few weeks to their new home far from the friends, family and familiarity of the Midwest. However, as soon as they arrived back in Indiana on day 3, the guy Bob was to replace dropped dead in Seattle. Bob came back to Seattle immediately the next day. So much for a leisurely move!


Bob and Missy took to Puget Sound. They raised their 3 now teenage girls in the "Bothell Brothel" as Bob affectionately refers to the home where his hormonal girls were coming of age. When opportunity arose, they traded up for a view home in Mukilteo, and have since down-sized to a condo in the same community.


Bob quit Batesville in 1995, going to work in Corporate Development and Acquisitions for the Loewen Group during the heyday when SCI and Loewen were competing aggressively to buy up every mom & pop funeral establishment they could. Bob spent 3 years bringing to Loewen's table for acquisition conversations 60+ funeral firms from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Northern California, including Evergreen-Washelli, however Dave Daly was not interested in selling. Bob's career was abruptly ended when Loewen filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and their acquisition frenzy stopped.


For an interim period, Bob joined a Portland, Oregon investment firm that specialized in sophisticated products: Charitable Remainder Trusts, fiber optic cable sales for the booming telecom business, etc. When the .com bubble burst, combined with economic uncertainty brought on by 9/11/2001, Bob decided it was time to get back to what he knew and understood best-and to a field that was secure in any economy-the funeral business.


Bob worked briefly in 2001 at our competitor, Evergreen Cemetery in Everett (which at the time was a Loewen company), doing pre-need sales. But he knew the real opportunity in pre-need lay 12 miles to the south in Seattle, at the other Evergreen: Evergreen-Washelli, that is.

Bob had known Dave Daly for 25 years as our casket sales rep and he also knew Dave Daly on a far more personal level, through AA. Bob inquired of Dave one day if we might have an opening in our sales department. Dave introduced Bob to Mike Johnson, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history!


Bob joined us on February 25, 2002. He was hired into our field force to be a cold-call cowboy back in the day when that was our primary/only lead source. After the law was passed in 2003 outlawing cold call telemarketing to households registered on the new Federal Do Not Call List, Bob worked to develop our Bothell Funeral Home market by running a crew of part-time door knockers in that community. In January 2005, Bob was transferred to his current position, to become one of the first three commission only family services salespeople. Along with Sandi Colleton and Alan Palmer, Bob was one of the first pioneers to replace the salaried at-need cemetery department staff when the family services division as we know it today was founded. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

 Milne 2013

In the ten years Bob has spent at Evergreen-Washelli, he has been one of our top performers every year. He is an example for people half his age; he freely admits it is the "power nap in his Caddy every afternoon" that keeps him going strong! On more than one occasion, a concerned visitor has come into the lobby to report on an elderly man slumped over the steering wheel in his car....the reception staff know to ask, "was the gentleman in a white Caddy?" If so, no need to call 911-it's just Bob taking a nap!


It is evident that Bob has such a passion for our profession. He truly "gets it." He cites "tremendous personal satisfaction from serving families well" as being one of the things that gets his creaky bones out of bed in the morning. He mentions he truly missed the "human element" that our profession affords when he was selling business to business. Family Services is the next best thing to funeral directing and maybe better in his book because of the financial opportunity/rewards.



Because of his credibility and experience, families often turn to him for advice about everything, including whether they should have either the body or cremated remains present at the service. Many folks here in the Seattle community wonder if this is an "outdated concept". In Bob's mind there is no hesitation, no equivocation on this subject. He freely shares this analogy with the families he serves: "There are 3 main sacraments in life: birth, marriage and death. Is the baby present at his baptism? Are the bride and groom present at their wedding? Should the decedent not be present at his funeral?" It is a no-brainer as far as Bob is concerned.


Bob is 74 years young, with a reflective and introspective nature. He's very well read and has a knack for remembering and sharing the most amazing, inspirational and apropos quotes at the drop of a hat. Sometimes they're funny, often bawdy, but always memorable. Perhaps he's become a bit more reflective than usual these past few months, and if so, I suspect it has to do with the passing of Grandma. Bob and Missy welcomed Missy's mom into their home 7 years ago to care for her when she could no longer live alone. Grandma passed away at home just a couple of months ago, and this has been a life changing event for them both. When I said that Bob was a devoted family man I wasn't kidding. He is very proud of the fact that no one in their family has ever been placed in a nursing home (and listen up Bob's daughters: he doesn't plan to be the first to break the trend!)


It is only natural and fitting that Bob would ponder his own funeral. When he retires someday (?!?) he figures he'll have plenty of time to plan the event. He will of course record some of his favorite Boccelli songs to be played at his service. And I'm sure there will be some spirit prayers or other words of wisdom from the Northwest Native American Lore he loves. And perhaps a story not at all appropriate for mixed company (let alone a funeral) just for a bit of comic relief, a story about the Master Award he received on a fishing trip involving his baiting skills... perhaps Bob will videotape himself leading the Fish Dance before he's "gone fishin" in the Great Beyond. And then there will be Bob's favorite spiritual and inspirational messages. Plenty of them. Bob plans to video record them himself so his grandchildren and the others who are lucky enough to attend can feel the full impact of his words as he speaks directly to their heart in his own voice. Pass the tissues.  


Mike Johnson dubbed Bob "Shelf Life" many years ago, a nickname that has stuck like glue. Bob has had a great run so far, but who knows how much shelf life he's got left in him? Does anyone ever really know what the future holds? We are all grateful that Bob's "Pull Date" is not here yet!! There are still more families to serve, more sales to make, more inspirational stories to share, more time to philosophize about the Meaning of Life.


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Closeup Closeup, continued 


Of course, there's no reason at all that you shouldn't talk specifically about what you do and why you're special. A tour of your facilities and an introduction to your staff is in order for those prospective customers who want to learn more about you. But the key is that everything you produce and present must resonate from the audience's point of view, and believe me, they're much harsher critics than you'd imagine.


Which leads me to my comment about "tomatoes." I wrote last February about the impact of poorly produced videos, but it's worth saying it again. We live in a world that has very high standards when it comes to web videos. Online videos are not a novelty any more. Your audience is exactly that: an Audience. They watch highly-produced television and first-release blockbuster movies. They know what "good" looks like - and what looks really cheesy. Just like no one wants to sit through more than a few seconds of your dad's 8mm home movies (other than those in them), they simply won't tolerate poorly produced video content. The more amateurish or self-interested the videos, the less likely anyone will come back for more.


So it makes sense from a business perspective that your online videos are a reflection of your commitment to quality. Use professional videographers who are accomplished at producing business videos - not just wedding photos. If possible, hire experienced writers and use professional on-camera or voiceover talent. Don't assume that merely because you run the operation that you've got that certain screen magic. On the other hand, don't shy away from the spotlight if your videographer is really good at directing non-professionals and strongly recommends that you be the star. The point is every penny you spend shows up on the screen and, especially in this case, speaks loads about you and your business. (You wouldn't buy a new car from a dealer who prints his literature off his office copier, would you?).


Web videos are fast becoming the norm, but what you do with the opportunity can mean the difference between a one-time online visit or the start of a beautiful new ongoing relationship.


So get ready for your close-up.  It's!


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 OnlineOnline, continued


Another cemetery focusing on online marketing is Riverside Cemetery in Macon, Ga. Cecil Coke, the cemetery's president, said its website has helped sales. "We use our website primarily for informational purposes right now," he said. "Although it is sometimes hard to track, we have seen an increase in plot sales since starting our website about nine years ago." Coke said people value seeing photos on the website because those help them select plot spaces before actually contracting a sales representative.


One of the things that helps drive traffic to Riverside's website is the domain name.


"There are Riverside cemeteries in nearly every state, meaning there are a lot of them around the country," Coke said. "We were the first Riverside Cemetery to register the domain name '' Having such an easily identified domain name has helped us a great deal. Cemeteries have to think ahead and stay on top of Internet advertising. Right now we are rethinking our website. We want to upgrade it with related links, possibly listing burial prices or at least offer a range of prices, and more aggressively try to use it to boost sales."


Tips from Experts


Promoting your cemetery on your own website and elsewhere online can boost website traffic, your brand and sales. It can also provide you with valuable data about the people interested in your cemetery.


But you need to do it right, Miller emphasized. "When a person is dealing with the death of a loved one, he does not want to know if your cemetery is 700 acres and was founded in 1834," he said. "Instead, he wants to know what your cemetery can offer to help him through a tough, emotional time. He's looking for information on plot opportunities, burial costs, memorials or cremation. Cemetery websites should be interactive, allowing a person to tell the cemetery what he needs. This would greatly help both the family and the salesman during the sales process. Online advertising should readily move people into the memorialization process - deal with love and respect for family, not with death."


"Probably the most important aspect of online cemetery advertising is for a cemetery to show potential families how the cemetery fits into the local community. Cemeteries need to be very specific on this point since most families bury within their communities," Miller added.


Ruiz suggested cemeteries think in terms of what families will search for online rather than what cemeteries want families to seek. "Families want to know how much cemetery plots actually cost," she said. "Families want to cut to the chase and search online using the following keyword strings: cemetery plot prices, cemetery plot sizes, cemetery plot costs, how to buy a cemetery plot, cost of a cemetery plot, etc."


Cemeteries interested in optimizing keyword opportunities should access Google's AdWords Keyword Tool, Ruiz said. "This is a free online tool allowing users to research and evaluate the competitiveness of specific keywords in a given market," she said. "This tool should be one of the first pit stops for most any cemetery wanting to refine their SEO efforts online."


It has been said the Internet represents the greatest revolution in communication since Gutenberg invented movable type. Now is the time for cemeteries to join this revolution and explore how to boost their business via online marketing.


Article by Larry LeMasters from American Cemetery Magazine for October 2013, reproduced in its entirety with permission


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cremationquestionsCremation questions continued


"We've got the traditional cremation package. That's the whole ball of wax."


During Lacy's "cremation mystery shopping" experiment, she found that many funeral directors used less-than-professional sayings such as this one. She said one funeral director even flushed the toilet while on the phone with her! There is no excuse for this type of behavior at your funeral home, so if you ever catch an employee doing that, as Lacy says, "Get them OFF the phone!" (or let them go altogether.)


"I'm not allowed to give you that information, sorry."


When you're not available to talk to a family who has experienced a loss, most of the time you have your administrative assistant to help you take those calls. However, when someone calls asking about pricing of any kind, what are they telling your families? Many administrative assistants will say they can't give the family that information or that person isn't available and hang up the phone. This is NOT a good situation to have.


Instead, your assistant should say, "I'd be pleased to help. My name is Cheryl and I'm the administrative assistant at Brown Funeral Home. Our licensed funeral director and cremation specialist Debbie can help you. She's in a meeting at the moment. Would it be okay for her to all you back?" This builds credibility with your family and helps you build that personal connection by putting a name to a voice on the phone. This is important to do, especially when someone is phone shopping.


"Call back if you have any questions."


This is a phrase most people in any customer service environment have. But at your funeral home, you only have a few minutes on the phone with them to help them decide whether or not they want to choose you. So, instead of sending them away from your firm with tat statement, invite them to your funeral home to discuss their loved one some more. Don't even bother limiting it to the funeral home. Offer to meet them at their house, o even at a coffee shop. The key is to let the family know that you want to truly help them at this difficult time, because today, that makes all the difference.


A few other phrases to avoid with cremation price shoppers


Lacy provided plenty of ways to transform simple phrases at your funeral home into phrases that build relationships, credibility, and a great reputation at your funeral home. Try using these value words and phrases instead of the usual, mundane statements most people use:


- Instead of introducing yourself with just your name, build credibility by saying, "My name is John and I'm a licensed funeral director and cremation specialist."


- Instead of saying "direct cremation" say "ceremonial cremation".


- Instead of saying "funeral service" say "tell the life story" or "celebration of life".


- Instead of saying "rental casket" say "ceremonial casket".


- Instead of saying "holding facility" say "care of your loved one".


-Instead of using "cremated remain" or "cremains" [Ed.- shudder!] say "your husband" (or whatever relationship they have with the loved one).


Final Thoughts


At the end of the day, it's all about feeling in your heart that you want to get to know the family and help them and build a relationship with them in that very moment. So every day, say to yourself "I want this family to choose our unreal home because we can provide the best care." Once you start treating every cremation inquiry as a new relationship, you'll find that less families are choosing direct cremation and more families are finding value in the other services. Why? Because when you help a family discover all the options there are to celebrate life, they'll find value in celebrating it. And if there's anything that we're here to do, it's just that. Celebrate life.


This article by Krystal Penrose for Funeral One was sourced from


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OSHAKnock Knock continued...                           

Training on label elements must include the type of information an employee would expect to see on the new labels, including:

Product identifier

How the hazardous chemical is identified. This can be (but is not limited to) the chemical name, code number or batch number.

Signal word

Used to indicate the relative level of severity of hazard and alert the reader to the potential hazard on the label. There are only two signal words - Danger and Warning. "Danger" is used for the more severe hazards and "Warning" is used for the less severe hazards.


OSHA's required pictograms must be in the shape of a square set at a point and include a black hazard symbol on a white background with a red frame. Eight pictograms have been designated.

Hazard statement

Describes the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical, including, where appropriate, the degree of hazard. For example: "Causes damage to kidneys through prolonged or repeated exposure when absorbed through the skin." All applicable hazard statements must appear on the label.

Precautionary statement

A phrase that describes recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects from exposure to a hazardous chemical.
  • Name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, distributor or importer.

In addition, training must also be provided on how an employee might use the labels in the workplace. Employers need to:

  • Explain how the information on the label can be used to ensure proper storage of hazardous chemicals.
  • Explain how the information might be used to quickly locate information on first aid when needed by employees or emergency personnel.
  • Explain that where a chemical has multiple hazards, different pictograms are used to identify the various hazards.
  • Explain that when there are similar precautionary statements, the one providing the most proactive information will be included on the label.

Employers must also provide training on the format of the revised SDS. According to OSHA, the training must include information on:

  • The standardized 16-section format, including the type of information found in the various sections. As an example, employees should be instructed that with the new format, Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection) will always contain information about exposure limits and ways to protect yourself, including personal protective equipment.
  • How information on labels is related to SDS.
Although the HSC does not require pictograms on all labels until Dec. 1, 2015, manufacturers are beginning to produce products with the labels. "Since the new labels and SDS could start arriving shortly, employers must train employees by the deadline," DeCamp pointed out.


Although training has not started yet, Anthony Desmond, vice president of field operations at Canarsie Cemetery in Brooklyn, M.Y., says it is on the cemetery's to-do list. "It's a small thing, but something we have to do," Desmond said.


Like the majority of cemeteries across the country, staff at Canarsie handle everything from degreaser, oil and antifreeze to weed killer and fertilizer. "It's a good thing there are going to be changes so there is one standard," Desmond said. "I think it will be easier for everyone; everyone will be on the same page."


And the use of the pictograms can only make things easier. "It's like letting the pictures tell the story," he pointed out. "All the important information is right there in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand format."


And while there has been no official word from OSHA about how the training should be documented, Desmond said Canarsie will follow standard operating procedure: recording the date, time and names of staff. "We definitely want to have that record on file," Desmond said. "We will do everything to be compliant."


It's a smart move, DeCamp noted.


"Typically when a new standard comes out there is a focus... 'This is what you have to do' and 'Are you doing it,'" said DeCamp, who works with ICCFA on OSHA issues. "And since this is the first big change in the communication standard since the 1980s, I wouldn't be surprised if there is increased attention."


And cemetery owners and operators could save themselves a lot of unwanted attention by conducting training and then have a log where staff can sign and date that they received the training. "Then you just file it away," DeCamp said. "If someone comes around asking, you have the proof."


Because the revision is complicated, TechneTrain has created a program to help employers conduct the training effectively and efficiently. "There's a ton of legalese in there," DeCamp said, "and we just want to make sure employers have the tools to cover OSHA's expectations for training, documentation and compliance."


Bottom line, DeCamp said, is that time is running out for cemetery owners and operators to train employees. "It's not something you want to put's time well spent now to avoid a possible fine later."


article by Pattie Martin Bartsche sourced from the July 2013 American Cemetery magazine


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Assorted Useful Links


Washington State Funeral and Cemetery Board


WSFDA: Washington State Funeral Directors Association


 ICCFA: International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association


CANA: Cremation Association of North America


NFDA: National Funeral Directors Association


CAO: Cemetery Association of Oregon


 OFDA: Oregon Funeral Directors Association


MBNA: Monument Builders of North America


PNMBA: Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association 




Do you have a job position to fill?

Cemetery or funeral home equipment to sell?

Are you looking for a job?

Classified ads for WCCFA members are FREE.

Send your information to the WCCFA at





The White Eagle Memorial Preserve, a Green Burial Ground in South Central Washington near Goldendale, is seeking a cemetery manager who will oversee the legacy, the spirit, the business and the success of White Eagle Memorial Preserve. This role is vital to the future of the not-for-profit organization Sacred Earth Foundation, of which it is a part.


See the complete job description here.







Well-established leader in Cemetery, Funeral profession in need of self-motivated, caring individual that is willing to be trained for advancement in our sales department.


        Full-time career opportunity

        High income potential


        Excellent benefits

        Leads provided

        Flexible hours

        Local travel

        Comprehensive Training

        Complete support staff


If you have strong communication skills & dynamic personality and a Life Insurance License please e-mail resume to:



Lake Washington Institute of Technology is seeking a part-time embalming instructor.


Link here for complete information.

The WCCFA Insider is published ten times per year by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. Portions of the information in this publication are taken from other sources which we believe to be reliable and which are not necessarily complete statements of all the available data. The services of an attorney or an accountant should be sought in connection with any legal or tax matter covered. Conclusions are based solely upon our best judgment and analysis of technical and industry information sources.

MAIL ONLY 16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012

Phone 360.668.2120 or 888.522.7637 Fax 360.282.6535

News articles, editorials, press releases, commentary are all welcomed.

For information about membership, advertising or editorial policy,

contact Judy Faaberg, Executive Director.


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In This Issue
A Cemeterian's Best Friend
Ten tips for winterizing your property
Funeral/Cemetery Board Meets 9/10
Meet the director: Megan Carlson Field
The art of cremation phone inquiries
The shelf life of a salesman
Get your 2014 music license now!
WA DOH releases 2012 mortality stats
Are you ready for your closeup?
Are you online? Cemetery marketing
OSHA Deadline Coming
Call for Speakers
Bulletin Board