Delegated States Likely Better Prepared To Enforce EPA RRP Rule
Several states around the country have assumed administration and enforcement of the EPA RRP rule and others are also thinking of doing the same. EPA actually offers money for the states to use to investigate the practicality of doing so. As this happens each state must create its own rule which is at least as strict as the EPA rule in order to get approval to do so from the EPA. This will lead to confusion for many renovators.
Variances in the rule requirements, from the EPA RRP rule and also from state to state, will make it difficult for renovators to understand the differences and keep up with amendments made by each entity. Renovators working in more than one state many have to become certified firms in each state they operate in and or also with the EPA. Are renovators better off if their states write a better thought out rule? Would renovators be better served if there was just one well written rule for everyone to follow? I predict that confusion may likely contribute to violations and fines for these renovators.
In July of this year Massachusetts took over administration and enforcement of the RRP rule. The Massachusetts Regulations, written by the Massachusetts Department of Occupational Safety (DOS), include many of the OSHA related considerations left out of the EPA RRP rule and the EPA required certified renovator training. As a result, Massachusetts contractors are quickly becoming aware of the already existing OSHA considerations related to working with lead. For example, the Massachusetts firm licensing application includes a requirement that a written respiratory protection and worker health and safety program evidencing compliance with the Massachusetts RRP rule and OSHA medical monitoring requirements be submitted with the application. This will force businesses to have such a program in place before they can be licensed to do RRP work. The requirement will also serve to dictate what the business must have in place should they be inspected by either the DOS or OSHA. I predict the need for OSHA related training will increase dramatically as contractors become aware of violations and fines levied against their peers.
The MA DOS has also started conducting on-site inspections. Though most inspections are triggered by citizens reporting suspected violations, the DOS is also out in the field and is stopping by renovation projects as they come across them. In one of his recent blogs, RRP certification training provider and business coach, Mark Paskell of The Contractor Coaching Partnership, shares a real life story of a painter who was visited by DOS after a neighbor next door to one of his projects called the DOS with concerns about soil contamination. The contractor was in compliance and made out fine, but the DOS left him with a message and asked that he would share it with others. "Tell every contractor you know we're out there enforcing. Tell your friends, your neighbors, other contractors you know, suppliers and trades. We are here and we will enforce the new law"
NOTE: EPA has authorized nine states to administer their own RRP programs: Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Wisconsin.