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topThe Insider
News for Death Care Professionals
Vol. IV
 Issue I



2015 College of Cemetery,


& Funeral Studies


March 25, 2015

Embassy Suites Hotel

Lynnwood, Wash.



will be held  Wednesday, March 25, 2015

at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lynnwood.


We have a small block of rooms at $129 for Tuesday 3/24. Call 425-775-2500 to reserve your room.


Be watching for program details to follow!



Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

in Anacortes February 18, 2015 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015 Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt will give a day-long seminar on Death, Grief & Mourning: Essential Caregiving Principles & Practices. It will be held at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge, 23885 Casino Drive, Anacortes, Wash. 98221 (855)794-6563. Beginning at 8:30 with registration and continental breakfast, the seminar will start at 9:00 and run until 3:30, with a break for lunch.

Registration is just $69/person, $79/person after January 30. Groups of 3 or more, $65/person. Includes continental breakfast, breaks, lunch buffet and program materials.


Dr. Wolfelt is a noted author, educator and grief counselor. (You can read more information and register by downloading the brochure here). He is a much sought-after speaker.


Thanks to the following benefactors and sponsors who are greatly subsidizing the usual cost to attend to make it affordable for all:



  • Hospice of the Northwest
  • Batesville Casket Company
  • Forethought Life Insurance Company
  • Matthews Funeral Home Products
  • SightLife
  • Northwest Planning Partners, Inc.
  • Washington State Funeral Directors Association


  • Brownsville Casket
  • Burley Funeral Chapel
  • Evans Funeral Chapel
  • Gillies Funeral Home
  • Hawthorne Funeral Home
  • Kern Funeral Home
  • Lemley Chapel
  • Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home
  • Sound Market Solutions
  • Visser Funeral Home
  • Wallin Funeral Home
  • Weller Funeral Home
  • Westford Funeral Home

Download the brochure and registration form here.

Remember, you must register by January 30 to receive the low rate of $69. It will go to $79 thereafter. Discount for three or more from same organization $65/person.




2015 is here and it's time

to renew your WCCFA membership!


Membership renewal forms have been mailed, but if you want to get the jump on it you can select your form below and take care of it right away!



You will also find information about the ICCFA/WCCFA 2015 Music License Coalition offer:


Wilbert Precast PNG

Dear Poul:

Tough cremation questions and answers 


Cremation/Legal Issues

By Poul Lemasters, Esq.


poul In this installment of his "Dear Poul" column, ICCFA Cremation Counsel Poul Lemasters answers your questions about whether you can hold remains until you get paid, whether some authorizing agents in a class are better than others and what to do when you can't find anyone to sign anything.


As a benefit to all IFFCA members, I provide legal advice on cremation-related issues. This is a free service to all members. Let's face it, in today's world where cremation is on the rise, it seems families are becoming more dysfunctional and, oh yes, let's not forget about the people who want to sue at the drop of a hat, it's nice to have a little support when you are faced with a problem.


Over the years, I've gotten all sorts of questions about cremation. It is amazing how many people are faced with cremation-related issues on an everyday basis. You may think that after awhile, the questions would all be ones I've gotten before, but the facts are always somewhat different.


While I can't address every issue I've ever been asked about, there are some questions I've gotten from several people - and I'm sure may other people have had similar questions cross their minds.


In this second edition of my "Dear Poul" column, as always, names have been changed to protect the innocent and so that I can make the questions a little more fun.


Dear Poul: We have a question regarding cremation and getting paid. We have the signatures of both the children and also have their signatures on the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services. The problem is, they were supposed to pay for the cremation by the day of the cremation, but they still haven't paid. The urn alone was over $500! Can I hold onto the cremated remains until they pay at least some of what they owe?

Rich but Broke in Pennsylvania


Dear Rich but Broke in Pennsylvania:

The short answer is, no, you can't hold cremated remains for payment.


Compare this to a "traditional" case where you get a death call, make the removal, perhaps embalm and then the family says, "We want to go somewhere else." At the point the family says that, you must let them. If you do not release the body, it is deemed holding a body hostage for payment, and you can face legal repercussions, including regulatory fines and punishment. The case with cremated remains is no different.


Not only is holding a loved one in order to demand payment deemed an illegal act, it also adds to the growing problem of abandoned or unclaimed cremated remains - another area of liability. A cremation provider should encourage the family to pick of cremated remains, not hold the remains hostage.


So what can a provider do to collect money owed?


While the law says you cannot hold a body - or property - hostage for payment, a provider does have the right to collect money owed. This means that once you hand over the cremated remains, you can proceed via any standard collection claim. Typically this means filing a claim against the family in small claims court, getting a judgment and then waiting for payment under a judgment.


Polyguard 7-12 There are steps to take to help reduce the chance of the issue getting to this point. First, a provider can refuse to cremate until payment is received. The difference is that you are refusing to provide services until you are paid, not refusing to release property until you are paid. If the family says, "We can't pay," they can move the deceased to another location - again, you can't hold the body until payment is received - but at least you are not out the cost of services for cremation.


Also, if you have not been paid for the cremation, you can refuse to provide merchandise until paid. For example, if the family has selected but not paid for an urn, do not use the urn until payment is received.


This can only be done if you haven't already put the remains in that urn, though! You can't place the cremated remains in the urn, then find out you aren't getting and then decide to remove the cremated remains from the urn.


Overall, handling this issue comes down to implementing better best practices for collections at the time of arrangements. If you have a problem at that time, solve it before proceeding. Don't create another problem by trying to keep the cremated remains until payment is received.


Continue "Dear Poul" here


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Losing sales due to marketing fallacies:

Funeral marketing for the perplexed 


As a partner in a thriving marketing firm, one of my responsibilities is that of business development. While I learn something in each conversation with people in marketing leadership positions, many times after I hang up the phone, I say to myself, "there's another one who's losing sales to their competitors!" Mainly that's because these folks have adopted some misconception about marketing as the "truth" that they can't and won't let go of no matter what. So while they say they'd like their sales to be stronger, their year-over-year sales won't change much or, in some cases, will decrease from one year to the next.


So, let's do a quick run-through of 5 most common fallacies that I hear. Hopefully none of these sound as familiar to you as they do to me.


I can grow my sales and "share of pie"

with a smaller budget than my competitors.


When I hear this, it generally implies two things to me: 1) Either your competitors are wasting a big portion of their marketing budget on initiatives or messaging that doesn't connect with the customers or, 2) your marketing partners are fantastic because they're willing to work for less than the average market price in order to do the wonderful work they do...which I have a hard time believing is the case. Oh, and then let's not forget about the inability of these companies to track how much money the competitor is actually (over)spending on marketing.


The reality is this: if your company is spending a good deal less than the competition, you're probably not making any significant gains in market share. Yes, there might be a competitor that's overspending, but my experience working with companies from the Fortune 100 to small mom-and-pops is that you don't pose a serious competitive threat unless your marketing budget is in the same ballpark with your's just one of those "marketing truths."


Marketing's role

is to generate new business


You'll get no argument from me that one of the jobs of marketing is to generate new business, directly or indirectly. But just as important, marketing's role is to make existing customers come back for more, that is making customers loyal to the brand. Many businesses are so focused on attracting new customers that they tend to ignore - or even walk away from - the existing ones. Yes, new customers are constantly needed, but truly successful companies prosper on their ability to retain the customers they've already acquired. The reason is simple: finding new customers is expensive and time-consuming. Let the following research statistics wash over you... 

  • The cost of acquiring a new customer is estimated at 6 to 7 times what it costs to maintain a current one.
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while many companies consider a "get new customers" campaign successful if just over 5% of the prospects contacted end up buying.

New business is always good but don't forget who's paying the bills.


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What OSHA's focus has been

at cemeteries, funeral homes


Start off the year with a review of your safety programs and procedures. One way to approach it is by zeroing in on what OSHA has been paying special attention to lately in its oversight of funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories.


Each year OSHA publishes citation statistics for the previous year. Take advantage of this information to look at what OSHA has been focusing on in your industry, and to evaluate your own safety programs.



Listed below are last year's five most frequent citations for lawn and garden services (the cemetery).

1. Personal protective equipment

2. Aerial devices

3. Hazard communication

4. General duty clause

5. Electrical safety


Note that while there were only a few citations for OSHA's excavations/trenching standard in your industry, this continues to be a major focus area for OSHA. Over $5 million in citations for violations of this regulation were issued across all industries last year.


PPE (personal protective equipment)

PPE violations topped the list for OSHA citations this pas year. Each employer must determine what protective equipment is necessary for each employee and each task.


OSHA found that employers either were not providing necessary equipment for the job hazards, not providing employees with the proper training or not ensuring that employees were wearing the required equipment.


Last year, the most frequent PPE citations were:


General requirements. This includes proper selection and provision of equipment, adequate written program, adequate training and proper use and care of PPE.


Eye and face protection. Cemetery workers likely need eye and face protection from flying particles or dust when using lawn care equipment, and chemicals such as pesticides, growth inhibitors, algae or other cleaners. Full-face shields also may be needed to protect your face from these hazards.


Head protection. A protective helmet is required for any employees who could hit their heads or have something fall on them. Working in a grave and trimming trees are examples of where protective helmets are needed.


Employers must provide the correct hard hat for each employee depending on the needs of the job. Some helmets only reduce the force of a blow to the top of the head, while others reduce the force of a blow from both the sides and top.


In some cases, protective helmets that are designed to reduce electrical shock hazard may be required.


Respiratory protection. Respirators may be needed for protection from airborne pesticides, growth inhibitors, fertilizers or other lawn applications; grit and dust; or exposure that occurs when dry-cutting masonry or stone that contains silica.


Exposure must be determined for each chemical and each respirator's protection level must be adequate for the exposure level. Before using a respirator, a physician must determine that it is safe for the employee to use one and he/she must be trained on its use and care.


Your respirator program must be in writing.


Aerial devices

The "vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating work platforms" standard covers safety issues for aerial devices such as basket or bucket trucks and devices with extendable ladders.


Violations in this category include using equipment that is improperly modified, insufficient training for operators, lack of fall protection and failure to chock wheels. Be sure that your employees have the proper training and follow safety regulations.

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Accountability Promotes Teamwork

and Better Service 


Protecting Your Families and Business

By Jim Starks, CFuE, CCrE


Lack of accountability and follow-procedures-when-it-suits-me approaches don't encourage teamwork in the work place. In fact, such issues can result in poor or even incomplete service to customers, as well as additional work for employees who pick up the slack. To encourage teamwork, excellent and complete service, and an overall satisfied workforce, firms must enforce accountability.


Additionally, without accountability to enforce OSHA and FTC standards, firms are at risk for more than unhappy customers and employees - namely, fines and the bad publicity that comes with them. And, at least in regard to OSHA and FTC standards, firms even have clear guidelines. OSHA specifically exists to instill and enforce healthy work environments, and when an employee does not follow his firm's OSHA policy he could affect other employees - and the public - with a contaminated or unsafe workplace.


Quite often, when an employee stops doing his job properly other employees eventually follow. This happens because the other employees don't want to do someone else's work. For example, if an employee does not clean properly after an embalming procedure, other employees get frustrated doing the extra work. Finally, everyone leaves the embalming room a mess. It's contaminated and can result in cross-contamination throughout the funeral home!


Further, customers may be affected with incomplete service when policies aren't enforced. For example, management wants all families served in the same manner, including being offered different memorial items. Whether this offering happens at pre-arrangement or at-need conferences, offering different memorial items gives the family different options as well as helps the bottom line with incremental income. But when an employee decides not to offer all items to every family, he is making a decision for them and denying them all opportunities.


These two examples demonstrate why accountability is necessary. But to enforce accountability for all management policies and procedures, open communications must exist between management and staff. Consider that while management wants some procedures done a particular way, the staff knows in actuality it may be better accomplished with another method. By listening to staff, management members promote a culture of teamwork and accountability.


Optimal accountability also takes a willingness of all employees to hold their peers accountable: If one employee does not follow the firm's policies and procedures, his actions - or lack thereof - must be brought to his attention. Otherwise, he will most likely continue with the when-it-suits-me approach.


Remember, a business is in the business of making a profit. Many times, when employees are not accountable it costs the business money form lost revenue - or someone else has to follow behind and complete the unfinished work.


Author Jim Starks, CFuE, CCrE is president of J. Starks Consulting in Lutz, Fla., and a nationally-recognized trainer on funeral home and crematory risk management. He used his experience in both funeral home and crematory operations and risk management, combined with his involvement with funeral homes of all sizes and geographies, to become an authority at controlling risk and loss in the death care industry, providing lectures and presentations to private firms, as well as regional, state and national associations. He also conducts private audits and risk assessments to independent funeral homes and crematories in the US and Canada, often identifying ways to save or generate thousands of dollars of profit. Contact Jim at 813-765-9844 or


This article sourced from Funeral & Cemetery News January 2015 with permission.


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Milne Construction completes seven-year project in Rome, Georgia



















Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Rome, Georgia, recently completed a mausoleum seven years in the making. The new mausoleum includes 588 crypt spaces and 596 niches, valuable inventory to a historic city cemetery founded in 1857 and long been thought to have been filled up. To complement the area's architecture and evoke a sense of permanence, Georgia materials were used. Silver-cloud granite fronts and trim veneer came out of Elberton, and Manchester Red brick came from Fairmount. The building was designed and built by Milne Construction Co., Portland, Oregon.













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Be a Better Telephone Communicator 


There's More To It...Advance Funeral Planning

By Christopher Kuhnen


As a pre-need sales representative, what time did you make your first sales call today? How about yesterday? Remember, your sales day begins with the first call you make to a prospect. Preparation activity, paperwork, and water cooler talk don't kick off a productive sales day.


Consider a telephone calling schedule that commits you to making contact with prospects at the first possible moment of the day and carries until your first appointment or a full calendar of future appointments.


Here are some tips to make you a better, more effective telephone communicator:


1. Smile and relax. If you're uptight, nervous or having a bad day it comes through in your tone of voice. Get and keep yourself in a positive, relaxed, casual frame of mind before placing all telephone calls.


2. Call at optimum times. Don't make calls before 8:30am. Don't make calls after 8:00pm unless there is absolutely no other way. Saturday mornings are good calling times between the hours of 8:00am and 1:00pm. Sunday afternoon from 1:00pm to 5:00pm can also be a good time to catch people at home.


3. Have a good reason for calling. Only call on prospects when you are confident of the line of questioning. The aged line of telling a prospect you're going to be in their neighborhood later today, visiting someone else that wanted pre-need information, and just wanted to drop by is often overused. Nobody "just drops by" these days.


Stay away from using the outdated script about how you have immediate vital information they need to receive right away. If the information were "that vital" the owner of the funeral home would have already called long before now. In the minds of consumers, unless there was an immediate death in their family, there is no information about funerals that is all that important. They additionally know this: what is a "great deal" or "price offer today" will still be available next week or next month. Savvy consumers know and are on the lookout for anything that sound like it's insincere and disingenuous.


4. Engage the prospect in a warm-up and directed dialogue. Do a little probing by asking open ended questions that require more than a simple "yes" or "no" answer. The majority of those making phone calls typically don't do a warm-up and they fail miserably.


5. If the person you wanted to reach does not answer the telephone, speak with the person who did answer. Everyone is a prospect. Warm-up with them a little before asking to speak with the person you initially attempted to reach.


6. Keep it simple. After saying "Hello," plainly state your name and who you represent. Let them know up front there is no emergency (no one has died) and that you want to speak with them for just a few short minutes. Begin your thoughtful line of questioning. Ask them up front, if now is a good time for them to talk. If not, tell them you will call them back later. They will expect you to go away and never call again. If you told them you would call them back, be true to your word. Use short sentences. You don't need to be longwinded and give the prospect everything they ever wanted to know about pre-need during your conversation. Give them enough to justify them setting an appointment with you.


7. If the prospect says, "Thank you, I'm not interested," find out why. This is often a conditioned, knee jerk reaction. Ask them if they have ever inquired about funeral pre-planning before. Do they already have a prearrangement plan on file elsewhere? If Yes, with whom and when was the plan made? Have they experienced a recent death in the family and just can't discuss pre-planning at this time? Do they think their children will take care of everything? Are they afraid to discuss the subject of their own mortality? Express a genuine interest in learning the prospect's real reason(s) for not wanting to receive the information you can provide to them.


8. Listen carefully. As long as the prospect is talking they will give you insights into what it is they "really" desire to know. Pick up on these subtle clues. Repeatedly remind them that through a face-to-face appointment they can obtain the information they desire. Stress the fact that you are simply sharing information.


Author Christopher Kuhnen of Edgewood, Kentucky is a 29-year veteran of funeral service. He is perhaps best known as an industry go-getter and progressive leader. As an insider into excellence, he is a trustworthy advisor to many funeral home and industry professionals. Kuhnen spent a good portion of his career working for a family-owned and -operated funeral home and national pre-need sales and marketing organization. He additionally was the architect and founder of Funeral Profit Protectors, LLC. Currently he serves as Vice President of Pre-Need Marketing for the Unity Financial Life Insurance Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a Kentucky Licensed Funeral Director, Life Insurance Agent, Certified Pre-Planning Consultant (CPC), Insight Institute Certified Funeral Celebrant and Certified Marketing Specialist, as bestowed by the former American Marketing Academy. Chris can be reached at 859-307-7223 or The article is sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News for January 2015 with permission.


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10 Tips for handling cremation customers


Tips From The Top [advice from experts]


In today's marketplace, cremation rates can reach 50 percent or more, depending on your area of the country, and funeral professionals need to embrace the fact that cremation is here to stay and will continue to grow. Too many in the industry still dread the cremation customer, assuming they are only looking for the quickest, least expensive way to deal with the disposition of their loved one. Michael Devaney, cremation merchandising manager at Wilbert Funeral Services, provides tips for giving cremation families meaningful, value-added service.


1. Cremation merchandising does not start when the family calls on you.

Make sure you speak to the cremation customer in everything you do. Your facility name, staff communication, website and marketing messages should all embrace the cremation family as a valued customer. Never make them feel less important.


2. Provide a tour of your facility before making arrangements.

Introduce the family to staff and show them your facility (especially if you have a crematory). This will help them see what they will be paying for as well as imagining possibilities for service options. Better yet, consider holding "cremation open houses" for the public, providing an opportunity for education before the need arises.


3. Take the opportunity to serve.

If a family states, "We just want a cremation," create an atmosphere of communication. Ask open-ended questions. If they say they want a "direct cremation," ask them to explain what they mean; they may think this is the only option. Never assume they know all service options available to them.


4. Collect the story.

Don't just be vital statistics collectors. Avoid asking only yes or no questions. Learn as much as you can about their loved one. Even if you meet with a family that has expressed a strong desire for a cremation without viewing or services, it's important to collect their story. Take time to listen to what they feel is important about the life of their loved one.


5. Reflect back to the family what they say about their loved one.

Often it is this time with a family that helps them to understand and see the need for a specific type of a personalized cremation product, ceremony or some sort of remembrance service of a life well lived.


6. Provide answers.

Families look to you as the expert. Use this time not only to listen, but to make suggestions based on their insights about their loved one. Providing answers does not mean telling families "what they want," but rather helping them understand the many options that are available and suggestion ways in which they may fulfill their needs.


7. Use audio visual tools.

If is always helpful to use short, informational videos during the arrangement conference to help families understand available service options, as well as decisions regarding final placement of cremated remains. Having these videos on your website can also be extremely helpful for families to view before the time of need. They will have more confidence in knowing what to expect from your cemetery.


8. Package your cremation services.

Once the family knows the type of service they want, it is helpful to hand them a list of cremation service packages in a customized printed booklet that has simple, easy-to-understand bullet points. Make sure there are visual images to correspond with each service package.


9. Display products in an attractive setting.

If you don't have the right display, don't expect to sell the products.


10. Do everything you can to meet their needs.

Always look for ways to do more for your cremation families. You are not promoting cremation but rather promoting service and value. Cremation will be at your doorstep no matter what you do. Why not be proactive and add value in everything you do? Family preferences may have changed, but your business model of service should not.


Sourced from American Cemetery magazine for December 2013 with permission 


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Etiquette or else:

Composing the picture you want to present 


By Brooke Austin


Following proper etiquette is a no-cost way to put your best foot forward to families, so why doesn't everyone do it? Maybe because though it's free, it's not easy. It takes desire and practice.


Impressions are so important, so vulnerable and sometimes even changeable. We have all made the wrong first impression, or been negatively impressed upon first meeting someone else, only to have that opinion change over time.


No one can behave perfectly at all times, but whether we are aware of it or not, the most candid of call cameras - the observation, reaction and impression of everyone we meet - is constantly focused on us, and this is particularly true of those of us who work in cemetery and funeral service. No profession operates in a fishbowl more than ours.


This can seem daunting, but one thing we should remind ourselves of is this: Following proper etiquette is absolutely free - it costs our organizations nothing.


It is important, however, that we don't confuse "free" with "easy."

The picture others have of you is critically important because it either goes into their album of "People I like to deal with" or joins the file of "People who are a pain in the neck."


Truth is, we can all relate to this process of impression-making. How many of you have ever heard someone say, "I will never deal with so-and-so again - she is a pain in the neck!"


People - well, some people, at any rate - just fall into lazy habits as far as manners go. It's said that it takes 21 days to change a habit, so with a little effort, those people can change and improve, but it takes a concerted, intentional effort. Usually this does not magically happen.


Simple ways to show good etiquette

What are some specific ways we can demonstrate proper etiquette or good manners in our organizations? I humbly offer the following suggestions:


  • Give discreet directions to the rest rooms to all visitors and guests, so that they don't have to seek out someone to ask if the need arises.
  • Offer everyone a free glass of ice water. It costs nothing and is legal in all states, regardless of regulations about serving food in funeral establishments.
  • Always offer to hang up people's outer clothing.
  • Be attentive to creating and maintaining a businesslike atmosphere.


These four thoughts are all part of what I like to call "little things of service." Of these "little things," the two most overlooked etiquette essentials are holding the door for someone and greeting someone or escorting someone to their car.


How many of you actually go outside to greet people when you see them pull into your parking lot? How many of you actually walk them to their vehicle when they leave your office?


It's these "little things of service" that actually make a BIG impression.


Matthews 7-1-13 Let's explore this idea further.


What people see in your face is also important. Your face expresses friendliness or the opposite; it is a reflection of your inner thoughts, and it is very difficult to successfully camouflage what you are truly feeling inside.


If you present a rigid, indifferent front, the message is clear that you do not value the individual with the "camera" trained on you.


As blunt as this will sound, it is nonetheless true: Many times the individual who has the "impression camera" is also the one with the cash, which, I think it is safe to say, all funeral and cemetery organizations need to survive and prosper.


When I was presenting this program in Atlantic City, I was impressed by the myriad of restaurants available which offered a variety of choices and culinary experiences.


I was impressed by one initially not because of the food but because of the warm, friendly smiles I received from every staff member. There was not one grouch in the group.


On the other hand, I experienced a couple of restaurants where the management must have had as its hiring goal engaging only grouches. Not surprisingly, I ate most of my meals, and spent most of my dining budget, at the place where everybody was smiling.


We all can relate to this type of glaring difference between two restaurants, both of which have food, tables, waiters, etc., but who in the end are as different as Mars and Jupiter because one is staffed by smiling people and the other is not.


I believe very much that we should all feel free to smile, even to grieving people. A smile can take on all sorts of meanings; a sympathetic smile is a genuine comfort to our families.


Study the effect on your associates when you express your warm heart to others and you will wonder why you haven't smiled more and why other people don't smile more. Smiling is contagious!


Good telephone etiquette

Basic telephone etiquette is also important to making a good impression with our clients - and the families we hope will become clients. Some tips to consider:


  • Sit up straight, breathe deeply, smile and act interested.
  • Reach for a pad and pen - but not when driving.
  • Try to answer the phone by the third ring.
  • Be courteous, friendly, professional, enthusiastic and soft spoken.
  • Pay attention - your reputation and your money are at risk.
  • Be conservative in transferring calls; do this only when necessary.
  • When you must leave the line, make sure to explain why and return promptly.
  • Be involved with the other person's conversation (engage the caller).
  • Eliminate background noise.
  • If possible, end the call on a positive note.


Showing CARE

Friendliness and smiles always start in the mind, and because basic etiquette usually depends on our authentic mental attitudes, what is in our thoughts will generally make us or break us. It is absolutely true that a person becomes what he or she thinks about.


When resolving a cemetery or funeral problem, you need to show clients that you CARE about them. If you honestly CARE, people will usually reward you with loyalty.


We really have no other choice, because I can guarantee that if you don't CARE for your customers, the consequences will not be pleasant.


To show that you CARE, you must be:


Credible. Credibility, or our reputation, is really all we have in the cemetery, funeral and cremation profession. Customers need to believe in our products and services, in our customer service policies and procedures and in our efforts and those of our staffs. Your title doesn't matter if you're not credible.


Accessible. Customers want to be able to access our customer service systems quickly and easily. Many times they are already upset about something - don't make it more difficult for them by passing them from employee to employee. Be accessible and customer-friendly.


premier 2013-2014 for web Reliable. Cemetery customers want to know what to expect from our organizations. We need to do what we say we will do at the time we say we will do it. My motto is "under promise, over deliver." We must try diligently to get it right the first time, on time, and then check with the customer to ensure satisfaction.


Excellent. Customers respond to excellence. Excellence means enhancing your clients' experience year by year through actions, not just with words. Total excellence is never actually achieved, but is a worthy ideal we should be dedicated to striving for all our lives.



I believe that good etiquette used in delivering genuine, caring customer service that is polished and intentional is the most disarming weapon in the world.


One day, a young man who wanted to become a funeral director approached a licensed funeral director in his town about the possibility of learning from him.


The grumpy older funeral director glared and snorted at the young man, "You - a funeral director? Why, you're nothing but a fool!"


The young man, ignoring the blustering, smiled from ear to ear, and said, "Why, sir, I only want to be like you when I grow up. Tell you what, I'll work for you for nothing for a month, and then you can decide if I'm a fool or not."


Without even knowing about the CARE system of customer service etiquette, the young man got the temporary job. After a month, the young man went to work full time. The young man's credibility, accessibility, reliability and excellence won over the grumpy old undertaker.


Of course, not everyone can cash in on a friendly attitude to quickly or directly, and some people are indeed impossible, but it pays dividends in satisfaction when you intentionally put the CARE system into action.


When I was making this presentation in Atlantic City, I thought about the late Bert Parks, who for years was master of ceremonies for the Miss America contest, which was always held in the Atlantic City Auditorium.


Parks was once asked what set apart the winning contestants. "That's easy," he replied. "No matter how beautifully you dress a show window, it's no good until you turn on the lights." He was referring to being able to make a warm, irresistible, dazzling, sunny impression - the quality the winners must possess.


That's the truth about etiquette in a nutshell. Making a friendly impression causes people to light up, revealing the real essence of their characters.


With friendliness and smiles, you surround yourself and your organization, as well as the world in which you move, with that light and warmth so desirable in funeral and cemetery service work.


It is just that simple.

The author is the area sales manager for StoneMor Partners, Levitttown, Penn. In the Southeast Region. She oversees the sales production for 15 cemeteries throughout Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. She plays an integral part in establishing their culture, which includes the public impression each property makes on the community. The article is based on a seminar Austin presented to the membership of the New Jersey Cemetery Association at its annual convention in Atlantic City in April 2014. It is sourced from ICCFA Magazine for November 2014 with permission.



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Do's and Don'ts of Advance Sales 


by Patti Martin Bartsche


Chances are purchasing a final resting place doesn't top many people's to-do list. While the reasons - or excuses - may be many, advance sales (the preneed of the cemetery industry) are an integral part of any cemetery operation. While it isn't easy - and does take a lot of work - there are things you can do to help put your firm on a better financial footing.



Be knowledgeable.


To ensure you are representing your firm properly and serving your prospects effectively, be knowledgeable about your organization and its product offerings. "If you don't know what you're selling, how are you going to sell it?" says Gary O'Sullivan, president of Gary O'Sullivan Co., a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, development, management and leadership sales and marketing in Winter Garden, Fla. Take time to learn about what you're selling...and don't be afraid to ask questions, O'Sullivan says. "The more knowledge you have, the more confident you'll be...and that will benefit everyone," he adds.



Master your craft.


Selling, just as any other profession, has skills that should be mastered. Work diligently to learn professional and ethical selling competencies. "No one is born a salesperson," O'Sullivan points out. "It's a skill that is learned...and learned correctly."



Focus on service.


Tenured sales professionals understand the simple concept that says, "The more you serve, the more you will sell," O'Sullivan says. Look for ways to be of service, to be engaged and to build relationships. Over time, your efforts will lead to more opportunities to sell.



Prospect consistently.


For years, O'Sullivan says he has taught a simple principle: "If you don't have people to see, then nothing else really matters." If you are not consistently gaining new prospects to share your preneed story with, he says, what you know will be of little value.



Sell what it does.


People don't buy products, they buy what a product does, O'Sullivan says. "We buy a can opener, because we want an open can. People buy the products and services we sell because of what it provides them," he says. "People don't want our products, they want to take away the burden of making these decisions at one of life's most difficult times, they want to save money, they want to provide for themselves and their families peace of mind."



Establish value before explaining price.


When making your preneed presentation, it's important to establish the value in making these important decisions. A simple way to remember this concept, O'Sullivan says, is to focus on the protection and peace of mind preplanning offers before discussing products and prices.



Take charge of how the public views your property.


For Charles F. Christopher, vice president of sales for Jefferson Memorial Cemetery and Funeral Home in Pittsburgh, that means offering a variety of programs and events that will bring different groups of people onto your property. "The key is to create a niche for yourself in the market...whether that means holding a pet export or offering a Cremation 101 seminar on your property," Christopher says. "You can't just go and try to sell need to know what is important to them."



Put the right people in the right jobs.


While it may not always be possible, if you have resources, invest in a sales/marketing person to help bring advance sales into your cemetery, says Thomas Daly, founder and principal of CHS Consulting Group in Westwood, Mass. "That person will be able to communicate your cemetery's message effectively," Daly says. And without having to juggle a number of other jobs throughout the day, he or she will be able to focus on the sales.


Continue reading here


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Marketing Losing Sales, continued


We're looking to be more visible with our customers

because it leads to better engagement.


Reaching the right balance between quality and frequency of the message requires careful consideration. There is a common belief among some that the more we communicate with our customers, the more "engaged" they will become. In fact, not knowing when to "zip it" is a classic marketing mistake that too many marketing people make. If marketing is about building relationships with customers, over-marketing, or the wrong kind of marketing, is the best way to kill the relationship and send the customer or prospect heading for the door. A social engagement study entitled "The Social Breakup" prepared by ExactTarget, provides clear evidence of what happens to customer relationships when the marketer comes on too strong:

  • 91% of consumers have unsubscribed from permission-based marketing emails
  • 81% of consumers have either "unliked" or removed a company's posts from their Facebook.

Guess the biggest reason people break up with companies? (Drum roll)...Too much marketing. The study showed that: 

  • 54% of consumers unsubscribe when emails come too frequently;
  • 63% of customers have "unliked" a company on Facebook due to excessive postings.

In short, increasing the frequency of communication shouldn't be your marketing goal. Constantly improving content quality should be.


We don't need a marketing firm

because we can do it in-house for less


Milne 2013 It's the #1 thing I hear the most. A survey conducted by American Express Canada shows that "84% of small business owners say branding is important to overall business success, but only 14% hire third-party experts to help with branding." I am not surprised by the results, and I can only guess the reasons: agency expense, the desire to have full control over the creative process, poor prior experience with an agency, or possibly the ability to make changes faster on one's own. So, instead of looking for an outside marketing partner, many companies decide to hire a "marketing person" who wears many hates: graphic designer, social media specialist, copywriter, etc. Let's be honest, no marketer can be a specialist in everything, unless the company is willing to cut corners on how it presents itself to the world.


Now please understand, I'm not trying to bash the in-house marketing department as there are a lot of smart and talented people out there working for companies. Rather, my point is this: the right outside marketing partner will bring a focus to the marketing initiatives or project, resulting in faster execution time; will come in with an original point of view - more in line with how your customer will interpret the messaging; develop much fresher creative (no "vanilla" wallpaper stuff that gets passed over), and; deliver a much higher level of production quality. Try this on for size: open up 5 trade or consumer magazines and tag 10 ads that stop you in your tracks...ones that convey a strong value proposition, ones that you wish your firm had done! My completely biased but nevertheless absolutely accurate guess is that all nearly all of those ads you tagged were created by a marketing firm or advertising agency.


We're looking for something beyond traditional marketing

because that kind of advertising is dead


The internet is chock full of advice on how your company should abandon traditional "old school" communication methods and make the switch to online. It would seem like TV, print ads, billboards, and radio are dying and not worth considering in the overall communication strategy. Yet, research (and lots of it) says this is an incorrect assumption. I think we can agree that the best marketing communication strategy uses a mix of offline and online tactics to reach the target audience. (Do yourself a favor and visit and subscribe - it's free. Here you'll get daily research updates on a wide range of topics including how traditional channels are preferred over digital depending on the audience.)


While it's true that more money is shifting towards digital, the traditional marketing channels are still heavily required in many business environments. That's especially true if you're reaching the 50-plus-year-old Baby Boomer. In fact, when Google started getting serious competition, they started running...wait for it...TV ads! When Dollar Shave Club saw that their growth was limited by only online marketing, they started using those old, traditional channels that have in turn made them a rising star company. When you need to reach a mass audience quickly and effectively, there's still no substitute for paid media...and even the dot-coms know it. thing about this, in 2014 the average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was more than $4 million. No CEO or Marketing Director would ever approve such a budget without taking ROI into account, right?


So as I noted earlier, hopefully none of these sound familiar to you. But if on the other hand you've heard or said one of these things in the past, know that a lot of confusion, frustration and unrealistic expectations can be eliminated by seeing the world through a different set of lenses.


Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email him at or visit You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn. 


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SalesDo's and Don'ts continued




Be afraid to change.


Change is constant, and you have to evolve your sales to meet your new market, Christopher insists. "That means doing presentations to various groups, offering events and creating new resource opportunities," he says.



Consider options.


Knowing that families today have many needs for their dollars, you may want ot consider offering a program that allows payment over time. "It's a way to get people who otherwise might not consider - or be able to afford - a cemetery purchase, a chance to do so," Daly points out. "Just because you've never done it before doesn't mean you can't offer the option now."



Remember the importance of technology.


More often than not, families are going to find you through an Internet search. That means, at the very least, Daly says, that your property needs a website. And that website should be rich in content, he says, including everything from photographs to contact information. "How do you expect people to contact you if they can't find you?" Daly asks.



Focus on volume.


Focus on activity. If you want sales to be consistent, then you must be consistent: consistent in performing the right activities and achieving the needed outcomes. This means rather than focusing on volume, you focus on the activities - daily - that are required to help you achieve the volume. These activities, such as daily prospecting, appointment setting and making the needed number of advance sales presentation, will help you reach your goals.



Stay in front of your families.


Always have material - a brochure, newsletter, informational guide and other resources - that you can give families. "Families are interested in more about selection of a burial option, pricing and availability," Daly says. "A simple newsletter can promote special events and burial options available, as well as cost savings."



Stay in touch with your families.


It's a good way to promote sales, Daly says. Consider sending a condolence card after a burial and host annual memorial services, he adds. "If you remember their deceased loved one, they will remember you.



Take it personally.


In sales, chances are you're going to hear "no" more times than you'll hear "yes."


"The reason people do not prospect consistently is because there is so much negativity," O'Sullivan points out. "People get tired of hearing 'no.'" What is important to understand, he says, is that people aren't saying "no" to you, the individual. "You can't take it personally or you won't last," O'Sullivan says. It's not easy, but you need to put rejection in its place and move on. "Realize, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward."



Be willing to change.


In previous years, most sales were done in the home in the evening, points out David Shipper, president and CEO of the Midwest Memorial Group and co-creator with O'Sullivan of The System, a preneed selling program. Now, most of the sales are done in the office during the day. At the same time, Shipper adds, "the internet is opening up all kinds of new communication opportunities, and the better we become at understanding these opportunities the more we can thrive in the years ahead."



Focus on the wrong things.


People try to sell the products and services themselves instead of what they do for clients, Shipper says. Buying preneed/advance sales helps the family emotionally and financially. "Concentrating on these issues helps avoid the difficulty of trying to sell a 3-foot-by-9-foot piece of dirt and grass," he notes.



Advertise things that people can understand.


"We care," isn't one of them, Shipper says. Neither is "We've been here for 100 years." According to Shipper, "People want a good reason to use you. Stop trying to align consumers with what you offer, and offer consumers what they want."



Remember selling is hard work and requires a plan.


People tend to start and stop sales programs, with is a big reason they often fail, Shipper insists. "As Gary O'Sulivan often says, running a sales organization is like driving down the highway at 70 miles an hour - take your foot off the gas and you will immediately slow down." 


Sourced from American Cemetery magazine February 2014 with permission 

PoulDear Poul continued



Dear Poul: we have a case where there are three children handling the cremation arrangements for their mother. There are no other children or siblings involved. Unfortunately, the kids all disagree about what to do, and we want to follow the directions of just one child. The oldest child is willing to take control, and that child is also the executor of the estate. Does this status raise him to a higher level than the other two children so he can be in control of disposition?

Special Kid in New York


Dear Special Kid in New York:

While this would be a nice option, the answer is "no."


Most states set forth a priority list of authorizing agents. The list separates the authorizing agents into classes such as: 1. Spouse; 2. Children; 3: Siblings. Farther down the list it may include more general categories such as guardian at the time of death, executor or even any person willing to take financial responsibility.


Keep in mind that each of these classes is independent of the others. This means that you can't add them up and create a "super class" that is higher than the others.


Imagine the scenario where someone can show that he is one of the children, and also was the guardian at the time of death plus the executor of the estate. Surely this would be a super high-ranking person who trumps everyone.


You might even have a family where somehow the members are more related than usual. Maybe there's a daughter who is also a niece. It might happen, but we don't give credit for that craziness! The point is that you look at each person by his or her highest rank on the list and nothing else.


Your question also brings up another issue, which I'll call the eldest child theory. While within the family, the eldest child might have some additional clout, you must remember that in your dealings with families, children must be treated equally.


(Personally, like many of you, I know that in my family I am not treated equally, having kept a running tally of Christmas and birthday gifts received over the years, but in the realm of disposition decision-making, all children are treated equally.)


Lastly, keep in mind that not all states require all children, or all members of a particular class, to authorize the final disposition. Some states require a simple majority, and some states allow just one person in the class to approve dispositions.


Nevertheless, it is best practice to try to get all of the members of a class to sign to protect you and your business. If there is a dispute, a provider should require all of them to sign for the authorization, or perhaps require a court to decide.


If a provider moves forward with cremation without all children (or siblings or whatever the authorizing class is), even if that cremation was authorized by the aforementioned super-high-ranking-eldest-child-who-is-also-the-executor, the provider may be siding with one individual in a dispute and therefore opening himself or herself up to claims filed by other family members.


Bottom line, this is what I tell providers: "If there is a debate, then we wait to cremate."


Dear Poul: Please help! I have a family with one child as the only next of kin. We talked to him one time and he said he wanted nothing to do with is father and that we should "just do what we want." But now we can't get back in touch with him, so we have no one to sign anything. What do we do?

All Alone in Alabama


Dear All Alone in Alabama:

Yes, I agree - this is a very tough issue, and due to space limitations, I can't answer your question here, so good luck!


Just kidding, but that one-line response probably sums up how most providers feel about this issue. Unfortunately, you can't just ignore the problem and hope it will go away.


Your options are limited, and unfortunately they also can be time-consuming and expensive. But by using the process I'm going to outline, my hope is that you can get a good resolution without actually having to go through all the steps.


Below is a very brief outline or sample guide as to how you handle this issue.


1. Document when you talked to the son and what was said. Make sure your operation gets in the habit of obtaining as much information as possible during that first moment of communication, especially good contact information, including cell phone numbers, emails and even a physical address.


2. Know your state law. Some states have contingencies for "refusal to participate," including time-frames where after 24 or 48 hours, any person who has been notified but refuses to take action loses his or her right to control the disposition. Other states require the court to be involved.


3. Find anyone else who must help (other individuals on the authorizing list) or anyone else who might help (friends or even neighbors). A great way to locate other people is to contact someone at the place of death and see if they have any other contacts information for people who knew the deceased.


4. Write a letter. The letter should be your strongly worded request for the family - the one son, in the case of this letter-writer - to step up and provide the needed authorization so you can proceed.


Keep in mind that this letter should include several items. First, the letter should clearly state (again, using the case of the one son as an example) that the child is being contacted because, under state law, he is listed as the authorizing agent and must participate in some manner.


Second, explain that his participation can be to sign the cremation authorization form Or it can be to sign away his right of disposition so someone else can handle the arrangements. At this point you, the provider, simply want him all in or all out.


Third, you must explain that if he fails to do either, you may have to go to court so that the court can force the issue. Make him aware that if you are forced to go to court, he will have to either participate or sign away his rights - the same options you are already giving him - and additional costs will be involved, for which he might be responsible once the court rules.


And last but not least, include a time frame or deadline in your letter, maybe allowing a week for him to respond.


5. Wait. This is the worst part, but is crucial. Give the letter recipient(s) time to respond and also follow up with a phone call.


6. Decide how to proceed. At this point, we hope your letter has resulted in a signature so that you can proceed. If you still have no signature, you are left with the option of going to court or of doing something other than cremation.


Some areas of the country provide options through a county coroner or a pauper's grave or an indigent funeral, or perhaps provide for an immediate burial instead of a cremation.


The situations where the family will not participate are difficult and, sad to say, becoming more common.


Use your resources and the provisions set forth in your local law to help you deal with them.


Author Poul Lemasters, Esq. is principal of Lemasters Consulting, Cincinnati. He is an attorney and funeral director, licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in Ohio and West Virginia and admitted to practice law in Ohio and Kentucky. He is ICCFA's special cremation legal counsel, and members in good standing may call him to discuss cremation-related issues for up to 20 minutes at no charge to the member (ICCFA pays for this service via an exclusive retainer). He also provides to members in good standing free GPL reviews to check for FTC compliance. You can reach Poul at 513-407-8114 or


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safetyOSHA continued 


Hazard communication

Every year, hazard communication is high on the list, and this past year was no exception. If you use even a single hazardous chemical, you need a "Right-to-Know" program.


In 2012, OSHA updated the Hazard Communication Standard by adopting the Global Harmonization System (GHS) of classification and labeling of chemicals.


GHS is an internationally agreed upon system that replaces the various classification and labeling standards used in different countries. Under the GHS, there is a single, consistent way of communicating hazards and how to use a product safely no matter where it is produced in the world.


The revised standard includes important changes to classification of chemicals, MSDS format (now called Safety date Sheets, or SDS), and labels for chemicals. Be sure that you have Safety Data Sheets for all chemicals, safe handling and storage procedures for each chemical, PPE, quick-drench showers and eye-wash stations (as required), and a comprehensive training program for employees.


Your Hazard Communication Program must be in writing.


The deadline for employee training on new label elements and SDS format was December 1, 2013. The deadline for full compliance with the new Hazard Communication Standard is June 1, 2016.


General Duty Clause

The OSHA General Duty Clause is the "catch-all standard" to cover areas for which there is no specific regulation. It states that the employer must provide an environment "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees."


Hazards must be identified before employees are exposed, preventative precautions must be taken and employees must be trained on these hazards and how to work safely.


Examples of these types of violations include equipment rollover (moving on a hill, exposure to crushing/drowning from mower tip-over, lack of rollover protection); falling (ladder, trimming tree from backhoe bucket); mowing with inadequate protection or training (lack of rollover protection or not wearing a seatbelt); amputation hazards posed by equipment; struck-by hazards such as exposure to traffic without appropriate warning signs, signals or barricades; heat or cold weather exposure; and exposure to overhead hazards, such as underneath a tree that is being trimmed.


Electrical Safety

Electrical hazards were another frequently cited area. An average of one worker dies from electrocution on the job every day. Even low voltage or low current can cause serious harm or death.


Electrical safety issues in cemeteries include proper grounding, extension cord safety, guarding, lockout/tagout issues and wiring design and protection. Those at primary risk are employees who use electric powered tools for maintenance or lawn care, and anyone responsible for handling electrical issues.


Employers were frequently cited for insufficient employee training.


Funeral homes and crematories

Funeral service and crematories are classified as a separate industry by OSHA and have a different set of citation date. The top five most frequent citations last year were:


1. Formaldehyde

2. Bloodborne pathogens

3. Hazard communication

4. Respiratory protection

5. Flammable liquids 



The fact that formaldehyde is the subject of its own federal regulation emphasizes the need to protect employees from exposure. The Formaldehyde Standard 29 CFR 1910.1048 was updated in 2012 to conform to the Global Harmonization System of classification and labeling of chemicals (commonly known as the GHS). These changes involve signage, labeling, wording and warnings and communication of hazards.


The Formaldehyde Standard applies in addition to the provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard discussed above. A Formaldehyde Protection Program must include the following:


Engineering controls Engineering controls must eliminate or reduce employee exposures as much as possible. Examples include enclosure and ventilation.


Monitoring of exposure limits Air monitoring is required unless it can be documented that the operation cannot result in concentrations above the Action Level or Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) under all expected conditions.


Personal protective equipment When engineering and work practice controls cannot maintain exposure at acceptable levels, employees must use the proper PPE.


This may include impervious clothing, gloves, aprons and chemical splash goggles. Showers and eye-wash stations must be provided if splashing is likely. Respirators are also required where airborne concentrations exceed allowable limits. See below for more information on respiratory protection.


Training In addition to the training requirements for hazard communication, personnel working with formaldehyde must receive annual chemical-specific information and training on their job assignment.


Employees must understand the hazards of formaldehyde and the control measures at your facility. Information must also be provided about signs or symptoms related to health effects of formaldehyde, and how to properly report them to the employer.


Proper formaldehyde storage Formaldehyde products must be stored in accordance with requirements listed on the SDS. All mixtures or solutions composed of greater than 0.1 percent formaldehyde and material capable of releasing formaldehyde into the air at concentrations reaching or exceeding 0.1 ppm must be labeled.


For all materials capable of releasing formaldehyde at levels above 0.5 ppm during normal use, the label must contain the words "potential cancer hazard."


Proper formaldehyde waste disposal Formaldehyde waste must be stored in a labeled hazardous waste container for proper disposal, or be made available for recycling, if practical.


Bloodborne pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens was the second most frequently cited standard last year. The key elements of a Bloodborne Pathogens Program include:


Exposure determination Assess the risks of exposure to bloodborne pathogens (general in the form of potential contact with body fluids) that employees may encounter at their work place. List the tasks and location where this contact can occur (e.g. cleaning out the refrigerated storage area).


Engineering and work practice controls Engineering and work practice controls must be used to eliminate or minimize employee exposure. Some examples of engineering controls include needle handling and disposal procedures, labels and signs, hand washing facilities and housekeeping procedures.


Written exposure control plan Policies for protecting employees against exposure to bloodborne pathogens must be in writing. The Exposure Control Act must be accessible to employees. It must be reviewed and updated at least annually, or whenever new or modified tasks and procedures affect occupational exposure.


Labels and signs Labels and signs must caution employees where exposure risks exist. Appropriate warning labels must be affixed to containers of regulated waste; refrigerators and freezers that contain blood or other potentially infectious material; and other containers that are used to store, transport or ship blood or other potentially infectious materials. This does not include public spaces such as crypts or viewing rooms.


Personal protective equipment When engineering controls do not completely eliminate hazards, personal protective equipment must be used. The appropriate PPE must be proved to shield employees from exposure risks. PPE could include gloves, gowns, shoe covers, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and/or eye protection.


It is the employer's responsibility to provide and maintain such equipment at no cost to the employee.


Employee information and training All employees with occupational exposure must participate in a bloodborne pathogens training program. This training must take place during work hours and must be appropriate to the education level and language of each employee.


The person conducting the training must be knowledgeable in the subject matter as it relates to the workplace, and be able to answer employee questions.


Vaccinations Hepatitis B vaccinations must be provided at no cost to all employees who will potentially be exposed as a part of their jobs.


These vaccinations must be performed by or under the supervision of a licensed physician or other licensed health care professional according to the recommendations of the U.S. Public Health Service that are current at the time that these evaluations and procedures take place.


Post-exposure evaluation and follow-up Following a report of an exposure incident, the employer must immediately make available a confidential medical evaluation and follow-up, at no cost to the employee.


The employer must ensure that all laboratory tests are conducted by an accredited laboratory at no cost to the employee. The employer must obtain and provide the employee with a copy of the evaluating health care professional's written opinion within 15 days of the completion of the evaluation.


Recordkeeping Maintain records of employee training, as well as of injuries and accidents that are related to any bloodborne pathogen exposure in the workplace.


Hazard communication

For funeral homes as well as cemeteries, another frequently cited violation last year was hazard communication, e.g., having an inadequate "Right-to-Know" program.


See the hazard communication section under "cemeteries" for information regarding this important issue.


Respiratory protection

Funeral home personnel may need respirators to protect themselves from formaldehyde or other chemical exposures. Exposure must be determined for each chemical, and each respirator's protection level must be adequate for the exposure level.


Before using a respirator, a physician must determine that it is safe for the employee to use one and he/she must be trained on its use and care. Your respirator program must be in writing.


Flammable liquids

In 2012, OSHA updated the Hazard Communication Standard by adopting the Global Harmonization System (GHS) of classification and labeling of chemicals. The Flammable Liquids Standard also was updated to incorporate these changes. Flammable liquids are now classified differently and labels have changed.


Flammable liquids often used in funeral homes include formaldehyde, cleaning products, alcohols and aerosols such as spray paint and WD-40. Even hand gels may be flammable. Additionally gasoline for vehicles, mowers and other equipment used for grounds maintenance and propane are flammable.


You may have other flammable liquids used or stored at your facility. Be sure that you have a program that includes safe use and storage of these liquids.


Sources of ignition are common in funeral homes, including open flames or candles, hot surfaces such as a retort, radiator, hot lawn care equipment or radiant heater.


Your safety program also must include control of ignition sources, a fire plan that identifies the equipment to prevent and detect fires and the means for fire control should an incident occur. The employer must also provide appropriate fire extinguishers in each location were a fire hazard exists.


Author Shannon DeCamp is client service manager for TechneTrain Inc., Milford, Ohio, 800-852-8314. She researches OSHA safety regulations and initiatives in order to help businesses stay in compliance and develops products to help businesses conduct safety training.


Article sourced from ICCFA Magazine for January 2015 with permission. 


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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 




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.

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Phone 425-345-6186

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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