Don’t Let Lead Ruin Your Renovation: Follow The Rule!

We’ve all heard of the dangers of lead-based paint.  If you are a general or renovation contractor, painter, plumber, carpenter, or electrician, this is an issue you have likely dealt with when working on structures built before 1978.  Renovation activies in older structures such as sanding, cutting, and demolishing can create hazardous lead dust and chips. If the structure is a home, day care facility, school, or other building where children are present, it’s important for you to do what you can to lower the risk of lead contamination during renovation activities.

To help protect against this risk, the EPA issued a “Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP)” rule.  Basically, the rule states that, regardless of the number of employees, there must be at least one certified renovator on each job where lead-based paint is present who is trained to follow lead-safe practices. These certified renovators must be trained by EPA-approved trainers. The EPA compliance is in full force as of April 2010.

To be certified, a contractor must apply to the EPA or to their state EPA-authorized program and pay the fee. The eight-hour course is taught by an EPA-approved training provider. After certification, the contractor must follow strict guidelines when renovating older buildings. The renovators must contain the work area to prevent the spread of dust and debris. This applies to outside work as well. All windows and doors must be closed and doors covered, while floors must be covered to contain the dust. The EPA also has specific cleaning and certification requirements at completion of the job. Consult the EPA publication “Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right” for more information about the rule and compliance.

If you think you are exempt from EPA fines, you may want to reconsider.  Here’s some examples of how the EPA has begun to enforce this rule, courtesy of the EPA’s “News Releases from Headquarters- 4/5/2012”:

“On March 20, 2012, Valiant Home Remodelers, a New Jersey window and siding company, agreed to pay $1,500 to resolve violations from failing to follow the RRP rule during a window and siding replacement project at a home in Edison, NJ. Valiant Home Remodelers failed to contain renovation dust, contain waste, and train workers on lead-safe practices.”

“On February 21, 2012, Johnson Sash and Door, a home repair company in Omaha, NE, agreed to pay a $5,558 penalty for failing to provide the owners or occupants of housing built prior to 1978 with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or to obtain a written acknowledgement prior to commencement of renovation activities at five homes. The complaint also alleged that Johnson failed to obtain initial certification prior to performing renovations at these residences.”

Don’t be hit with hefty fines!  Take the steps now to become a certified renovator.  Not only will you protect your bottom line, you’ll protect your customers.  Do you take any additional safety measures when it comes to lead-based paint during renovation?

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