A YouTube video – which has since been removed from the website – of workers scraping paint from the siding of an old Maine home has led to an enforcement action under the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region I (New England) office.
Despite being an EPA-Certified Renovator, the contractor – Colin Wentworth of Rockland, Maine – failed to apply for firm certification and follow the work practices required in the regulation, such as posting warning signs, setting up plastic containment around work areas, collecting dust and debris, using high-speed scraping machines equipped with HEPA filters, and maintaining records to demonstrate compliance with the rule, EPA said. At least six children, one of whom was under six years old, lived in the four-unit building at the time of the project.
“It’s important that remodelers get trained and obtain certification from EPA, as well as follow the lead-safe work practices outlined in the rule to minimize exposing children to lead hazards,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bob Peterson, CGR, CAPS, CGP, and president of Associates in Building & Design, Ltd. in Ft. Collins, Colo. “NAHB has created resources for remodelers to help them comply with the rule and adapt their businesses accordingly.”
This is the first action brought regarding lead-safe work practice violations under the rule, which became effective a year ago. The maximum penalty for the alleged violations is $37,500 per violation, per day.
"It's interesting to note that EPA chose to launch its enforcement program by taking action as a result of an anonymous public video posting," said Amy Chai, senior counsel at NAHB.
The specific fine for this enforcement action was not indicated, but the contractor could be liable for a maximum of $37,500 per violation, per day, according to the EPA.
"Many renovation firms have done the right thing by becoming certified, sending their employees to training and following the appropriate health-protective work practices. Enforcement of these rules is important to protecting children and the business interests of those contractors who are following the rule," said Curt Spalding, the regional administrator of the EPA's New England office (Region I), in a press release.
NAHB advises remodelers to review the requirements of the lead regulation and use the resources available at www.nahb.org/leadpaint to prepare for compliance. The member-only tools include sample contract language, liability and insurance guidance, materials for educating consumers and more.
Summary of the Lead Rule
Here's a quick summary of the EPA lead paint rule:
1. Training and Certification
All firms working in pre-1978 homes need to be certified by the EPA. Firms need to complete the application for certification and submit a fee of $300.
Along with the firm certification, an employee will also need to be an EPA-Certified Renovator. This employee will be responsible for training other employees and overseeing work practices and cleaning. The training includes a six-hour class and two hours of hands-on training. Find an EPA-approved trainer by searching the directory.
Both the firm and Certified Renovator certifications are valid for five years. A Certified Renovator must take a four-hour refresher course to be recertified.
Learn more about the responsibilities of a certified firm and certified renovator.
2. Work Practices
Before work starts on a pre-1978 renovation, the Certified Renovator must give the Renovate Right pamphlet to residents, post warning signs outside the work area and supervise setting up containment to prevent spreading dust. The Certified Renovator must also be present during specific stages of the work.
The rule lists specific containment procedures for both interior and exterior projects. It forbids certain work practices including open flame or torch burning, use of a heat gun that exceeds 1100°F, and high-speed sanding and grinding unless the tool is equipped with a HEPA exhaust control. Once the work is completed, the regulation specifies cleaning and waste disposal procedures. Clean-up procedures must be supervised by a Certified Renovator.
3. Verification and Record Keeping
After clean up is complete, the Certified Renovator must verify the cleaning by matching a cleaning cloth with an EPA verification card. If the cloth appears dirtier or darker than the card, the cleaning must be repeated.
A complete file of records on the project must be kept by the Certified Renovator for three years. These records include: verification of owner/occupant receipt of the Renovate Right pamphlet or attempt to inform, documentation of work practices, Certified Renovator certification, and proof of worker training.
Remodelers are also required to share a copy of records developed under the rule requirements with the customer within 30 days of completing the remodeling work.
It is important to note that these work practices do not apply to residential structures or child-occupied facilities built after 1978, and some or all of the rule's requirements may be waived if:
- The repairs are minor, with interior work disturbing less than 6 square feet or exteriors disturbing less than 20 square feet being exempt.
- The house or components test lead-free by a Certified Risk Assessor, Lead Inspector or Certified Renovator.
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