I learned yesterday that a Mass Building Inspector, unaware of the EPA RRP Law, criticized a local contractor for following mandated lead safe practices on a remodeling job. The EPA RRP Lead Law mandates that contractors utilize specific practices when working on pre 1978 properties.
The contractor set up his containment, closed all the windows and doors in the contained area as mandated, and proceeded with the demolition. The building inspector came on site and began to accuse the contractor of creating an unsafe work environment. The inspector said you can't work like this, you have to open up the windows and put a fan in the window to blow the dust out!
The contractor then educated the building inspector as to why he had to follow specific mandated lead safe practices.
We receive numerous calls every week regarding the lack of RRP knowledge amongst building inspectors, health inspectors and other officials in the building regulating community. Some inspectors we talk to are aware of the law but are waiting for funding from the state to be trained and have been told it is not their responsibility to enforce it.
I reported this matter to the Department of Occupational Safety and was told that they are aware that more needs to be done to bring the inspector community up to speed on this new regulation. The basic challenge; lack of funding.
In March, I set up a meeting with the Mass Federation of Building Officials and brought officials from the Boston EPA, The DOS and Shawn McCadden. At that meeting the building inspectors said they would be willing to work with the DOS and EPA but they will need assistance. One concern they have is that they will not know exactly what to do until they are trained on the regulation. They also would expect assurances, if violations are found and reported, that these reports will be investigated by the state inspectors, not the building inspector. They told us that any assistance will have to be directed by the BBRS. As of this date it appears very little has been done to bring building inspectors up to speed on the Mass RRP Lead Law.
I asked the DOS yesterday what is it going to take to train all building inspectors in the State of Massachusetts? I suggested can they ask the EPA to provide grant money to get this done ASAP?
In some states, like Rhode Island, the building permit application has a check box on it asking for the contractor's lead certification. Why can't this be done in Massachusetts? Or why not add one form to the permit application package and require proof of RRP Certification on pre 1978 properties?
If a contractor cannot obtain a permit to work on pre 1978 properties, due to lack of RRP certification, many homeowners concerned about having a bad contractor experience, will hire contractors who can obtain permits.