When I met with the EPA earlier this year they said they expected that homeowners would report contractors who are not following the RRP Lead Law. The EPA believed that as homeowners become more aware from their advertising efforts they would begin to make the calls.
Many contractors have questioned the inability of the EPA to mount an effective enforcement effort to catch non compliant contractors. The EPA has said that they do not have the budget or man power to adequately police the countryside. Contractors have told me that the would welcome homeowner calls to the EPA about illegal contracting activity. However RRP compliant contractors would rather see the EPA and local building officials do their job, enforcing the laws on the books.
Homeowner asks how to report a non-compliant contractor
On November 29th I received and interesting email from a homeowner. Here it is;
Hi. I had the exterior of my house painted about 2 months ago. I have since learned about the new EPA Lead law that went into effect in April 2010. The painters took no precautions what-so-ever and was wondering if and who I can report this to. Thank you.
I replied to the email and asked that she call me directly so that I could verify that this is a legitimate request. I have not heard from her yet and I am reluctant to help her along until I can verifiy that it is a based upon facts.
I wonder if this will be a common tactic used by homeowners who learn about the rule during or after a job has been completed?
Is it possible that her job was done inappropriately by a contractor who dosn't know about the RRP Lead Rule?
Is it possible that it is a contractor who just said the heck with the RRP Lead Law and ignored the practices?
Or is it possible that the homeowner found out about the law and still owes money on the job? Maybe she has found a way to not have to make the final payment? Or maybe she will want her money back in return for her silence?
Whatever the case may be, we need to be prudent in our affairs when we work on projects that require RRP practices. I am not saying that all homeowners would try to evade payment or resort to blackmail but the possibility exists for homeowners who want to do so.
Another scenario could present itself; let's say you have a disgruntled employee who knows what the RRP practices are and for whatever reason his boss elects not to follow them on some jobs. What would prevent this employee from making a phone call to the EPA, OSHA or Industrial Accidents Division saying that my boss isn't following the required RRP lead safe practices. The employee also says he believes that he was exposed to unsafe levels of lead dust!
One way to marginally insulate oneself from these potential scenarios is to follow the RRP Lead Law when it is required. As we say in the EPA RRP trainings and workshops document, document, document.