The June 18th EPA RRP Enforcement extension date came to a close on Thursday, 9/30/2010. As you may recall, the EPA determined in June, that it was necessary to allow contractors, property owners and maintenance workers more time to obtain RRP training and certification. Reasons given were lack of accredited trainers, awareness and available classes. The extension called for the EPA to forgo enforcement of the firm certification until 9/30/2010. In addition, the extension stated that contractors must prove that they have signed up for RRP training by 9/30/2010 and that training must be completed on or before 12/31/2010.
What does this mean for those who are non-compliant?
Contractors who have failed to apply for the Firm Certification cannot legally work on homes built before 1978, if they are projects subject to the EPA RRP Lead Rule. In addition, if they do work on a home prior to 1978, they must use lead safe practices and produce the required documentation taught in the certified renovator training. Fines for non-compliance are up to $37,500 per violation per day.
If I work on a pre 1978 home and I am not trained, how will they catch me?
The above question comes up everyday in my office. We receive calls from those who believe that the EPA will never enforce this regulation. These non-compliant minded contractors say the EPA doesn't have the resources, no one knows about the law, it is just a money grab and several other reasons to vulgar to print here.
EPA's secret weapon written into the law; documentation
The EPA acknowledges that they have challenges with awareness and the resources to enforce this law on a widespread basis. However, the EPA RRP Lead Rule has an enforcement mechanism built in that all non-compliant contractors, property owners and maintenance workers should know. The law states that renovators must document the lead-safe practices used on pre 1978 properties. This documentation MUST be kept on file for three years.
This mechanism will allow any EPA or government official to go back three years on work preformed by a contractor on a pre 1978 home. Any government agency can initiate the enforcement. For example, let's say OSHA visits you and they find RRP violations. They can initiate RRP enforcement actions by calling the EPA. We see evidence of this in Massachusetts where each agency will help the other with enforcement. Last week, I spoke with the EPA in New York and I was told that they are asking the county offices to report RRP violators and EPA inspections will follow.
So in essence, a contractor may think they are OK because no one from the EPA is assigned to their area. However, the EPA may 2 years down the road, when they have more resources, ask to see your documents for work done on a 1900 home. If you don't have them you are assumed to be non-compliant. Remember the fine is up to $37,500 per violation per day. In regulated states like Massachusetts, documentation requirements are similar, the fines may be less, but violations can be revocation of license to work.
How many more need to be trained
To date the EPA estimates that 475,000 people have been trained and we are fast approaching 300 trainers. Industry trainers we work with cite that this represents 10% of all who need to become trained. The EPA believes this extension has provided the remaining 90% sufficient time to plan their affairs accordingly to become compliant.
Those who must comply with this law are general contractors, remodelers, roofers, painters, siding and window contractors, gutter installers, weatherization firms, maintenance workers, property management firms, owner of multi-family properties where they receive rent, banks and trusts who own real estate for sale like foreclosures, Realtors who oversee renovations on pre-1978 homes, municipalities, colleges and universities with housing, flooring companies, interior designers who work with wall coverings, architects who contract renovation projects, tile contractors, handymen, insulation contractors, alarm companies, cable and fiber optic installers, HVAC, plumbers, finish mill work and carpentry and anyone working on pre 1978 homes, target housing and day care centers for compensation where they will break paint in the amount of 6 square feet per room on the interior and 20 square feet on the exterior.
Do you know anyone described in the above list? Ask them if they are certified and RRP trained. You may save them from fines of up to $37,500 per violation per day?
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