The EPA just released that Lowes has been fined $500,000.00 for violating the EPA RRP Lead Law. EPA inspectors discovered violations of the RRP record keeping requirements and work practice standards. The EPA press release states that Lowes hired contractors that were not EPA certified, not properly trained, did not use lead-safe work practices and incorrectly used lead test kits at Lowes renovation work site.
Lowes has been ordered to fire any contractor that is not operating in compliance with the RRP Law, to investigate reports of non-compliance and correct any violations. I wonder what will happen to jobs under contract right now. Will some contractors be removed in the middle of a project?
Enforcement; Recordkeeping and Documentation
The EPA states that they discovered the violations through a review of records for projects performed by contractors under contract with Lowes stores throughout the country. The press release states that the investigation was prompted by tips and complaints submitted by the public.
I remember back in 2010 when Shawn McCadden and I met with the EPA in Boston we were told that some RRP enforcement would be done by reviewing paperwork documenting RRP compliance. Today it is clear that statement was spot on. The Boston EPA told us they would rely upon records and documentation to determine if a contractor was compliant by retroactively examining records as far back as three years.
To avoid having this happen to you contractors have to learn how to implement the recordkeeping requirements into the business in addition to performing the practices in the field.
Is Home Depot or Your Company Next On The EPA Hit List?
The EPA record keeping rule states they can go back three years to check for RRP compliance on completed jobs. Who is next?
Reviewing previous EPA fines it appears that record keeping is the preferred enforcement mechanism. Today's announcement spurs the thought of who might be next on their hit list. One might contemplate that Home Depot would be next due to the volume of installed work they do throughout the country. Hitting a company like Lowe's who has deep pockets and can handle $500,000.00 may be a smart tactical move by the EPA to get contractors to take notice and get compliant with the law.
However these are different times and who knows who the EPA will hit and fine next. They just recently announced that they will be focusing on contractors in Connecticut. One has to wonder if the EPA is finally getting around to unilaterally enforcing the RRP Law nationwide.
RRP Implementation Workshops
For help on how to effectively implement the RRP record keeping requirements into your business Shawn McCadden and The Contractor Coaching Partnership Inc conduct workshops to help contractors and organizations meet the requirements of the RRP Rule.