The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set October 24 to 30, 2010 as National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. One of EPA’s objectives for this yearly exercise is to remind people of the rules and practices established by EPA to help prevent lead poisoning. This year’s lead poisoning prevention week comes as EPA resumes enforcement of its “Renovation, Repair and Painting” rule, also known as the “Renovate Right” or “RRP” rule.
The Renovate Right rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices during renovation, repair and painting activities in homes, apartments, child care facilities and schools which were built before 1978. Under the rule, persons performing renovations for compensation in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilities must provide a copy of EPA’s “Renovate Right” pamphlet to the owners and occupants of such buildings before beginning renovations. Renovators also must post general information about the renovation at a child-occupied facility and provide access to copies of the education pamphlet to the parents or guardians of children who use a child-occupied facility (for example, the parents of pre-schoolers). A renovator should obtain a written acknowledgement of receipt of the brochure from the owners or occupants.
“Persons performing renovations for compensation” does not mean only renovation or painting contractors. The term also includes maintenance staff employed directly by a child-occupied facility, apartment complex or residential landlord – i.e., the building handyman, school janitor, etc.
Renovators also must use lead-safe work practices when performing any work that could disturb paint. These work practices include containing the work area so that dust and debris cannot escape, minimizing dust-producing activities (for example, no open flame burning or use of high-temperature heat guns), and cleaning up thoroughly so no dust remains after the renovation.
As of April, 2010, the Renovate Right rule also specifies that renovation work can be performed only by certified firms using workers with accredited training who follow the mandatory work practice requirements of the rule. Many in the construction and renovation industry objected to EPA’s certification and training deadline, claiming that there were not enough trainers to meet the need. In June, EPA elected to delay enforcement of the rule against renovation firms that had not yet been certified until October 1, 2010, and against individual workers who still needed training in lead-safe practices until December 31, 2010, so long as those individuals enrolled or applied to enroll in a training course by September 30 and actually receive that training by December 31.
EPA’s enforcement priorities for fiscal year 2011 include lead-based paint hazards. The potential penalty for violating the lead-based paint rules, including the Renovate Right rule, is up to $37,500 per day, per violation, with each facility, building or housing unit counting as a separate violation. As the roll-out of “Renovate Right” continues, we expect that EPA will begin looking for enforcement targets. For questions concerning compliance with the new rule, please call or e-mail your Spencer Fane Britt & Browne attorney.