On 12/31/2010 the EPA RRP Certified Renovator deadline ends. All contractors, landlords, property maintenance personnel, sub contractors and those who work for compensation on pre 1978 homes must be certified. Anyone who is not trained must not offer to work or work on pre 1978 homes or they will be subject to fines from the EPA. Current fines are up to $37,500 per day per offense.
On 6/18/2010 the EPA extension on fines and training caused a significant drop off for those seeking training. From 1/13/2010 to 6/30/2010 The Contractor Coaching Partnership facilitated the training for 3000 contractors. Since then we have only trained a little over 700.
Non-compliant Contractors not scared of the EPA
Many contractors tell us they are not worried about becoming certified or getting caught because there have been no EPA fines. They know that the EPA is unable to mount any effort. In addition most building officials want nothing to do with the enforcement and many still have no clue as to what is going on with the law.
Trained Contractors Snubbing the EPA RRP Law Requirements
In our outreach efforts we are finding that a significant percentage of contractors are not Certifying their firms, not buying hepa vacuums, not implementing the practices, not setting up documentation and generally rolling the dice that the EPA will never mount a sustainable enforcement effort. They say homeowners don't even know about the law and when it is brought up the homeowner says I don't care and I don't want to pay more. Also the underground contractor community is allowed to continue to steal jobs in every state in the union. Contractors polled said prices are under pressure from the underground community. They say the group includes illegal aliens, moonlighting fireman, teachers and municipal workers, unemployed non-union and union workers and fly by nights.
Trainers canceling classes
RRP trainers are canceling classes everywhere due to lack of interest. I know many trainers who have decided to seek other sources of income after gearing up to train the EPA RRP course. We have also canceled some classes and have scaled back the dates. We used to sell out every date and now average less than 20 for each class. Contractors and lumberyard managers tell us that they know hundreds who are not certified and the consensus among them is the EPA will never enforce it, it is a joke, and it comes at the worse possible time (economy).
Kick in the teeth to compliant contractors
Yesterday I spoke with a trained and certified company and he was very frustrated. He said "I went out and certified my company and bought all the crap to be compliant. Yet in my own neighborhood I see criminal contractors blatantly blowing the law off not using the lead safe practices." I called the building inspector and he said he has nothing to do with it! I feel like I have been kicked in the teeth by the EPA" He went on to tell me that he is losing many jobs in his area because homeowners are hiring illegal contractors. He went on to add that homeowners should be fined for hiring illegal aliens and illegal contractors.
What will 2011 bring?
Who knows what 2011 will bring. It is obvious that until the EPA or local building officials mount a significant enforcement effort that results in fines, wide contractor compliance will continue to move slowly. Meanwhile, compliant contractors who have stepped up to the plate, will have to deal with ineffective and non-existent enforcement in most areas.
Will OSHA have an impact on enforcement?
The RRP Lead Law requires that contractors comply with OSHA Lead Laws. Most residential contractors have little or no experience with the OSHA Lead in Construction Standard. However, contractors who don't comply with it and get caught, face huge fines. In some states like Massachusetts, contractors are required to submit a respirator and worker protection program to obtain the lead license. The OSHA fines for serious violations are $7,000 and for willful violations $70,000. In September, I met OSHA officials and they said they have been instructed to fine first and educate later. If OSHA starts enforcing the standard, these fines will likely have an indirect effect leading to RRP compliance.