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The RRP Compliance Dilemma for Mass Contractors

Posted by Mark Paskell on Mon, Jan 07, 2013 @ 06:55 AM

RRP compliance for Massachusetts contractors is turning out to be a real dilemma. As of this date according to the State RRP License list their are only 3300 entities who can legally offer to work or work on pre 1978 properties. Of the 3300 or so companies there are many who are not contractors. I have not counted the amount of contractors on the 154 pages on the list but I would take an educated guess that there are less than 2500 contractors who are RRP legal according to the Mass RRP Lead Law. As of July 2010 when the state took over the law there were 4500 contractors on the EPA Certified Firm List. How come they all didn't convert to the Mass License? Mass allows a waiver and no fee if you were already certified with the EPA. Answer: OSHA Lead in Construction Standards written int the Mass RRP Law.

In essence this means that most contractors in the state are violating the Mass RRP Law CMR 454.22.00. In talking to contractors who we have trained and those who have said no way am I going to get trained: the number one reason why they are avoiding compliance is the Mass provisions requiring compliance with the OSHA Lead in Construction Standards. 

Opportunity for RRP Compliant Contractors To Differentiate: there are contractors who educate homeowners that they are RRP Certified and they are successful at getting non certified competition disqualified.

Do you think that the Mass Legislature should remove the OSHA medical monitoring and respiratory requirements written into the statute? In states who are regulated by the EPA, the EPA training only mentions that contractors should check out the OSHA requirements and make sure they comply. In Mass you are not eligible for the RRP License (Lead Safe Renovation Contractor) if you have employees unless you provide a written medical montoring and respiratory plan. The Mass statute requires that contractors have their employees tested for lead poisoning.

Many contractors fear that if they ask their current employees to get a lead test and then find out they are lead poisoned that they will be sued. Another reality is most residential contractors have little or no knowledge of what it takes to comply with OSHA. This reality causes many contractors to avoid OSHA out of fear or ignorance. Many need a basic OSHA 10 training to become familiar with the OSHA requirements.

One thing that is very frustrating to RRP compliant contractors and RRP trainers is that the state for whatever reason has failed at getting contractors to get on board with the rule. The contractors who have paid the freight are running up against contractors who are not carrying the cost of compliance.

In these tough economic times this is unfair and potentially exposing consumers and workers to lead exposure. When I train contractors on RRP I try to help them develop strategies on how to address apathetic homeowners who are willing to hire non RRP Certified contractors. I must admit that sometimes it is frustrating because contractors tell me most consumers could care less about the RRP costs compliant contractors must pass on. 

As the Chairman of Government Affairs and a member of EMNARI contractors ask when is the state going to start showing that they will effectively enforce the law. It is true that Mass is the only state that has the courage to post the companies that they have fined on the State Website. However compliant contractors are seeking an enforcement effort that has teeth and prevents non RRP certified contractors from being able to do business on pre 1978 properties as soon as possible.

Homeowners need to be notified: It is a real kick in the teeth to a contractor when homeowners say I do not know  about RRP or homeowners hire contractors who are not RRP Certified and charge less.

We share your thoughts with the state:

Please respond to this blog post as the state of Mass looks at this site often. I will make sure all of your comments get to the state Department of Labor Standards.

Meanwhile I recommend that you at least get certified in the event the RRP enforcement team rides by your job a pays you a visit. The fines are usually small but the incovenience is a real pain in the butt. Plus you may help prevent some lead poisoning for yourself, your team and your customer.

Mass/EPA RRP Training: next date is 1/24/2103 at National Lumber. Click link to register if you want to get certified.





Tags: rrp enforcement ma