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RRPedia has been created by Shawn McCadden to help remodelers and others affected by the New EPA Renovation Repair and Painting Rule. 

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NARI Member Merrick Testifies About Frustrations With EPA and RRP

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

NARI Member Testifies Before Small Business Committee About Frustrations With EPA

David Merrick testifies for NARI

 

Yesterday, David Merrick, chairman of the NARI Government Affairs Committee and owner of Merrick Design and Build, testified before the House Small Business Committee about many of the concerns remodelers' have about the RRP Rule and the difficulties trying to effectively work with EPA.  I think David’s testimony spoke for the opinions of most NARI Members as well as for most remodelers.  Let me know what you think.

Click here to view the entire video which was just over one hour long.  David’s introduction and his testimony begin at about 19:50.

 

Here are some highlights I pulled from watching the video myself.

In response to questions posed by a representative overseeing the SBA (Ms. Peters?), David stands up for and points out the realities and challenges for smaller one or two man remodeling businesses starting at about 30:28. David stressed the burden record keeping has on such smaller businesses just trying to earn enough money within the time they have to produce their product, pointing out that even if they are doing the right things regarding the work they perform, they can be punished by EPA for paperwork challenges.

Ms Peters hears remodelers' concerns about the RRP

Many might miss this watching the video, but I think it exposes the lack of understanding many of those in our government have about the nature of the remodeling industry and the businesses that participate in the industry.  The same representative overseeing the SBA (Ms. Peters?) made the following comment at about 33:10 in what I observed to be an obvious effort to be sarcastic;

“And when I get my bid from a contractor on remodeling should I triple the time and double the money?  (She laughs) Just Kidding…”

Perhaps, like many contractors, EPA has a problem under estimating and under bidding?

 

Mr Tipton asks about EPA challenges for remodelersAt 58:56 Mr. Tipton asks: “So, effectively what you are saying is if the EPA is asking for input maybe it would be a good idea if they listened?   To that question Merrick replied that the EPA is always gracious about meeting with NARI and taking their input, but he further clarifies his response by commenting “They take our comments and disappear behind doors and we never hear from them again.”

I think it is worth listening to the balance of the video after Merrick’s comment to hear Mr. Tipton’s comments and opinions in support of more sensible oversight of EPA’s tactics, behavior, attitudes and performance.

Give EPA more money?

During the hearing there was much banter regarding whether EPA needs more money to effectively regulate or alternately should get less money because of their poor performance.  I think they are missing the point.   We don’t have more money to give EPA unless we take it from somewhere else or borrow it from China and put the burden of paying for the borrowed money on our children’s future.  Maybe many of the the same children the rule is intended to protect.

Here is one example.  During the hearing Merrick points out That currently only 122,476 firms in the remodeling sector are considered EPA Lead-Certified Firms, out of the estimated 652,206 remodeling businesses in the United States.  Has EPA done a good job in the past 26 months since the rule took effect if 80% of remodeling contractors are still operating uncertified?  Are they really keeping our children safe from lead poisoning with the plan they assembled knowing the reality of available funding?

I think it goes back to original planning.  Try this analogy. 

RRP Rule is underfunded

The simple way to put it is it’s great to figure out and plan for a nice seafood lobster dinner, but if you get to the store and you don’t have enough money then all that planning on a great seafood dinner is kind of wasted.  My suggestion is that the way EPA went about creating this rule is rather silly especially because they just don’t have the funding or the budget to administer and enforce the rule the way the rule was written.

 

Perhaps if EPA really understood our industry and how contractors operate, they would have considered a Design/Build approach!

Thanks David.

Click here for a NARI Press Release about the hearing

 

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Documentation Considerations, EPA RRP Rule Updates, Effects of the RRP Rule

RRP Rule: Is it a Sheep in Wolf's Clothing?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, May 23, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

RRP Rule: Is it a Sheep in Wolf's Clothing?

Joe Levitch

 

One Person’s Opinion: This is a guest blog submitted by Joe Levitch of Levco Builders to express his opinion.  Joe is a remodeling contractor and he is also a Licensed Lead Inspector, Licensed Risk assessor  and the owner of Lead Locators, a lead inspection firm in Boise Idaho. He comments and contributes to RRPedia quite often.  If you would like to express your opinion or offer something of value for RRPedia visitors let me know.

 

Is RRP a Sheep in Wolf's Clothing?

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

It has been 2 years now and the EPA's RRP rule has been an enigma to deal with. What I envisioned as game changing regulation has turned out to be a sheep in wolfs clothing. I expected a year of educating the public through infomercials and campaigns, Then some head turning enforcement. Sadly I was and have been consistently disappointed. I expected my fellow remodelers to understand intuitively that the old days of dusty demolition were over and adopt the new rules, but there I go again over estimating my industry.

Resistance to change seems to dominate

Turns out remodelers like everyone else wants to do as little as possible and get by. Change is painful I suppose, most would rather spend energy disputing scientific facts than getting their act together and incorporating lead testing and LSWP into their SOP'S.

I have talked till blue in the face about the federal law and the mandate that RRP imposed back in April of 2010 but in my little hamlet of Boise Idaho there has been no known enforcement. I do see a trend however in the industry. We are getting a few more requests to verify contractors are using Best Practices when LSWP is in process. I am also getting an up tic in the number of test requests for lead testing, so the news is not all bad.

OSHA Lead in Construction

 

There have been a few reports of fines, but they are not close to home or particularly relevant to the remodeling industry. Most are for failure to use the Renovate Right Booklet. OSHA has become a bit more worrisome to contractors than it used to be. Their requirements are far more burdensome and onerous. I seriously doubt many remodeling firms are in compliance with their rules.

Lead Awareness Committee

Contractors are "Leaded-Out"

I still sense a general disdain for the RRP rule along with general confusion, but a reluctant sluggish move towards compliance.

I set up a Lead Awareness committee for my NARI group and after an enthusiastic push to get everyone up to date and compliant, I was told to back off with the education and speakers " We are a little leaded-out right now"

I have had no problem explaining to my clients that lead testing saves money. Perhaps it is just the delivery I use? Doing leaded work has been difficult. I can see how one can develop heat exhaustion or worse in little or no time. Monitor your folks for hydration and schedule cooling off time.

On testing and the Opt-Out

I am saddened by remodeling organizations asking congress to repeal RRP or allow opt out. It is a huge step backwards. Having swabs check for lead in drywall and plaster was a foolish thing to allow too. I read that there is a 98% false positive when used in this way. That is why the EPA could care less. (Click here for clarity on false positives)

The swabs test for the presence of lead. We don't need to do LSWP unless there is over 1mg/cm 2.  3M is laughing all the way to the bank, homeowners and contractors alike are using LSWP unnecessarily in many cases now.

XRF GunMy advice to every remodeler is to find a company with an XRF that can do a test and produce a report that can be used as a tool to deal with lead above the regulatory limit. Get fluent in using LSWP. Check each other to make sure no one is poisoning their clients or their pets and lets be professional about it.

My company has teamed up with some painters that are certified firms and have done testing on all proposed renovations on all pre '78 homes. Many of them are leaded, most have only a few components that require LSWP. We have also had tiles tested and found a many of them to be leaded in a very high percentage. I believe tile should be assumed to be leaded and demolished with care.

Let's do the right thing

In closing I applaud those that have incorporated RRP into their business. The EPA has been looking into new ways to track compliance and performing enforcement. I encourage those that are resisting change to get on board before the EPA fines you, or worse, you make someone sick.  Ask those of us that are dealing with the rule how we have managed and let's set ourselves apart from our competition by doing the right thing.

Topics: OSHA Considerations, Enforcement and Inspections, Lead Test Kits and Testing, Opinions from Renovators, Guest Blogs, Opt Out Related

EPA Publishes Their First List of RRP Violations and Fines

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:03 PM

EPA Fines Violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

EPA RRP Press release about RRP Violations and fines

 

 

 

The following press release was sent out via email by EPA on Thursday April 5, 2012.  Click here to subscribe to and receive RRP rule specific information and updates from EPA.

 

Release Date: 04/05/2012
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, Kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three enforcement actions for violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) and other lead rules. The RRP rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices to ensure that common renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition, which can create hazardous lead dust, are conducted properly by trained and certified contractors or individuals. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.

“Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems and affects our most vulnerable population, our children,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By taking action to enforce lead rules we are protecting people’s health and ensuring that businesses that follow the rules have a level playing field.”

On March 21, 2012, Colin Wentworth, a rental property owner who was responsible for building operation and maintenance, agreed to pay $10,000 to resolve violations of the RRP rule. The complaint alleged that Mr. Wentworth’s workers violated the rule by improperly using power equipment to remove paint from the exterior surface of an 1850’s apartment building he owns in Rockland, Maine. The complaint also alleged that the workers had not received any training under the rule and that Mr. Wentworth had failed to apply for firm certification with the EPA. Because the lead dust had not been properly contained, residents were potentially exposed and the dust could have also contaminated the ground surrounding the apartment building. Two of the four units in the building were rented to recipients of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 vouchers and there were at least four children under the age of 18, including one under the age of six, living in the units. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also responded to the alleged violations.

On March 20, 2012, Valiant Home Remodelers, a New Jersey window and siding company, agreed to pay $1,500 to resolve violations from failing to follow the RRP rule during a window and siding replacement project at a home in Edison, N.J. Valiant Home Remodelers failed to contain renovation dust, contain waste, and train workers on lead-safe work practices.

On February 21, 2012, Johnson Sash and Door, a home repair company located in Omaha, Neb., agreed to pay a $5,558 penalty for failing to provide the owners or occupants of housing built prior to 1978 with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or to obtain a written acknowledgment prior to commencement of renovation activities at five homes. The complaint also alleged that Johnson failed to obtain initial certification prior to performing renovations at these residences.

As required by the law, a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty is evaluated and penalties are adjusted accordingly.

These recent actions are part of EPA’s effort to ensure that contractors and individuals follow the RRP requirements and other lead rules to protect people’s health from exposure to lead. Lead exposure can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

More on the settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/tsca/tscaenfstatreq.html

More about lead: http://www.epa.gov/lead

Doreen Cantor Paster
Associate Chief, Lead, Heavy Metals, & Inorganics Branch
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (7404T)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Phone: 202-566-0486


Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports, EPA Announcements

Updates on MA RRP Rule From The MA Department of Labor Standards

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Apr 03, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

Updates on MA RRP Rule From The MA Department of Labor Standards

MA Department of Labor StandardsAs EPA amends the RRP rule, renovators working in states that have taken over the rule from EPA need to know if and how these states incorporate the changes into their own rule.   Yesterday I inquired with the State of Massachusetts to find out about a few recent amendments and changes.

One of the good things about the state of Massachusetts taking over the RRP rule is that communications with the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) is much easier and much quicker than trying to get answers from EPA.  I also find their staff is much more informed and always helpful.  The Q&A below was conducted completely via email (I sent the questions out of the blue) and I got a complete and what I would call an intuitive response in less than 4 hours!  Credit to the DLS!

 

Here is the Q&A

Paint chip samplingQuestion: Can you tell me if MA allows the lead safe renovation supervisor to take paint chip samples same as EPA does?

DLS Answer: Massachusetts incorporates the federal protocol by reference in our regulation. LSR Supervisors are authorized to sample painted surfaces in accordance with their training.  Of course, they must do adequate sampling for different painting histories of surfaces, document their findings, maintain records of testing and provide documentation to the property owner as required.

 

Question: Does MA require that the firm provide the renovation checklist to owners and tenants within 30 days of completion of final billing, whichever comes first (just like EPA)?

DLS Answer: Yes. DLS has the same documentation requirements as the federal rule.

 

Question:  EPA requires towns and municipalities to become certified firms and have Certified Renovators before doing their own RRP work on town properties that are target housing and or Child Occupied Facilities.   They can however hire out the work to a Certified Firm and therefore would not need to be a Certified Firm if the work is hired out to one.  Does the Massachusetts law follow the same requirements?

DLS Answer:  Yes. Massachusetts mirrors the requirement but offers the opportunity for the fee to be waived for property owners with trained employees working on their own properties.

You can find them listed on our LSRC list published on the DLS web pages.

 

LeadCheck on drywall and plasterQuestion: Also, does MA now recognize LeadCheck for Drywall and Plaster?

DLS Answer: Yes.  But as usual, there is a caveat which is also applicable at the federal level.  When the trained individual takes a sample – s/he must follow the prescribed protocols.  In order to take advantage of the new approval; they must follow the new testing methods and adequately test surfaces.  In some cases, many samples must be taken in order to effectively disclude the work under the rule.

Training Providers will likely being teaching the new methods, however, those who were previously trained will need to justify that they know how to sample in order to validate their findings.  Of course, the safest path is to presume the presence of lead.

 

Question: Any other updates or clarifications I should know about?

DLS Answer: I know you are aware that DLS has been doing enforcement and civil penalties.  We are still interested to have the regulated community provide us feedback to provide better regulations.  I don’t have a specific date but we will certainly let you know when we are going back to public hearings to update our regulation.

Its spring and we are in the field doing compliance checks.

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Documentation Considerations, MA RRP Updates, Firm Certification, MA RRP Lead Rules, MA RRP Licensing, Lead Test Kits and Testing, Authorized States, Amendments, RRP Questions

EPA Report Card: How well are they doing with the RRP Rule?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 01, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

EPA Report Card:  How well are they doing with the RRP Rule?

Effectiveness of RRP Rule

 

Many news outlets and politicians have been using report card scores to express how well they think people, government policies and regulations are performing.   Several politicians, government employees and even our president have provided their own self assessment scores as well.  It is almost two years now since the EPA RRP Rule went into effect.   I thought I would offer my own report card on how I think the EPA has performed so far in four areas regarding the RRP Rule.  EPA is welcome to offer their own self assessment score.

 

Subject: Outreach about the rule

EPA has claimed to have done extensive outreach to consumers and the regulated community.  They list a variety of methods used and places where ads and announcements were placed.  

Report Card Score: D-

EPA RRP outreach resultsIn reality what they have done has not been effective.  Either the message is not effective, the placement is not effective or both.  According to a survey done by Professional Remodeler magazine 65% of remodelers surveyed estimated that less than 10% of their potential clients are aware of the rule.  Only 5 percent think more than half of homeowners know about it.

On a recent webinar with EPA Officials Regarding RRP Public Awareness and Enforcement Efforts hosted by NCHH, I asked EPA officials if they were doing any tracking to check the actual effectiveness of their outreach efforts.  They are not.  Essentially the answer was that EPA is not a professional marketing organization and has no way of tracking results.   But they said they will be doing more outreach…

 

Subject: Getting Firms Certified

EPA requires all firms doing renovation, repair and painting work on homes built prior to 1978 become EPA Certified Firms before performing or offering to perform such work.

Report Card Score: F

Number of EPA certified firms

Before the rule rule came into effect EPA stated; "There are approximately 211,000 firms estimated to become certified to engage in renovation, repair, or painting activities." As of posting this blog EPA’s web site claims that EPA has certified 97,746 firms (118,885 firms including those approved by authorized states).  According to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the most recent government census showed more than 650,000 businesses received a majority of their revenue by providing remodeling services in 2007 and that number does not include the large number of part-time, semi-retired, and “moonlighting” contractors reporting gross revenues of less than $25,000.   I think we also know there are many illegally operating contractors as well that did not make it into the census count. 

Number of remodeling contractors

Admittedly not all remodeling companies work on pre-1978 homes.  However, there are many other business types other than remodelers who disturb lead paint.  One example is exterminators.  According to Exterminator.com there are over 20,000 extermination companies in the US.  Others who would need to become certified include landlords, property management firms, banks that own foreclosed properties, housing authorities, cities/towns and municipalities. (According to Google answers there are 18,443 cities, towns, villages, and other such governing groups in the United States, not including any island areas other than Puerto Rico) I am sure you could list other business and entity types that would fall under the rule.  My best guess is that EPA has only certified about 10% of the firms that should be certified and has completely misjudge the number of firms affected by this rule.

As a side note, I contacted EPA to find out how many workers have become Certified Renovators so far.  I was told they are still trying to decide how to count them…

 

Subject: Enforcement

There are 12 states that have taken over the rule so far.  That leaves 38 states plus American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico under administration and enforcement by EPA. 

Report Card Score: F

RRP ViolationsSo far EPA has only published one violation since the rule came into effect in April of 2010.  On the other hand the state of Massachusetts took over the rule in July of 2012 and has published over 20 violation enforcements to date.

Though not confirmable facts, one commenter on a LinkedIn discussion claimed “there are only 37 Certified Firms in Maui County when there are 1,500+ Licensed Contractors and double to triple unlicensed contractors”.

Industry insiders report EPA has been doing RRP investigations.  EPA claims we will hear more about violations and enforcement very soon.

 

Subject: Protecting children and others from lead poisoning due to renovations

 “The purpose of the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule is to minimize exposure from lead-based paint dust during renovation, repair, or painting activities. This is a key effort in reducing the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning, particularly lead poisoning caused by housing contaminated by renovation activities. This will also minimize exposure to older children and adults who are also adversely impacted by lead-based paint dust exposure.”  (From EPA Web site)  

Report Card Score: Incomplete

Is RRP effective, is RRP workingIt is a fact that lead is poisonous and RRP activities can cause poisoning. However, EPA does not know how many children were actually poisoned by RRP activities before the rule came into effect.  If you check any of the data it refers to RRP activities as the “likely source” of lead poisoning, not “the cause”.   That being the case, EPA has no way to know if the RRP rule is making a difference or not.  It is ‘likely” that it is helping.  But, without knowing where EPA started and where we are now that the rule has been in place for almost a year, EPA has no idea if what they have been doing is effective enough and or if or where it can improve effectiveness within the rule. 

Unfortunately, the rule may also be causing more children to be poisoned than before the rule came into effect, because of EPA's inability to adequately enforce it.  As reported in this press release, to keep costs down, consumers are hiring non-certified firms to work on their homes and the required lead safe-practices are not being used.  Also, contractors are reporting that some realtors and insurance adjusters are falsely telling consumers that the rule does not apply at their homes based on location and or for the work they are having done.  All of this has fostered an underground economy of contractors taking advantage of purposely ignoring the rule to keep prices down and improve their ability to sell jobs.

 

How do you think EPA has been doing with the RRP Rule so far?  Consider using the comment area below to offer your own subjects and report card scores.


Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Firm Certification, Health Effects of Lead, Authorized States, Violation Reports, Effects of the RRP Rule, Statistics, Opinions from Renovators

92% of NARI Membership Supports Return of RRP Opt Out

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 @ 10:58 AM

92% of NARI Membership Supports Return of RRP Opt Out

NARI Member SurveyA recent survey by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry shows that a full majority of members responding to the survey agreed with the proposed return of the Opt Out provision of the RRP rule.

According to a March 2, 2012 press release NARI members overwhelmingly agreed (92%) that restoring the opt-out to the rule made the most sense for both the remodeling professional and the homeowner.  “I truly believe that as professional remodelers, we must be cognizant of our customer’s health and safety. However, once they are educated concerning lead hazards, ultimately, they should be able to make their own decisions regarding this issue,” advised a member who responded to the survey.  

In another NARI survey of homeowners, deployed in June 2011, 51% of homeowners agreed with the statement, “I want the option to opt-out of the EPA’s RRP regulations.”

 

Here is the survey question the NARI Government Affairs committee sent out:

"In 2008, EPA finalized its EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rules with an 'opt-out' provision that would have allowed homeowners to waive special work practices if there were no pregnant women or children under 6 living in the home. Two years later, EPA decided to remove the opt-out provision. Should NARI support legislation that restores the "opt-out" provision?"

EPA RRP EnforcementThe NARI press release also clarified that NARI continues to work actively with the EPA on ways the agency can educate the public on the importance of hiring EPA-certified remodelers to do work on homes built before 1978. NARI has been and continues to push the agency for tougher enforcement of the rules to crack down on firms lacking the required EPA certification that are violating the rule and failing to protect homeowners.

 

Christopher Wright on NARI Opt Out SurveyChristopher Wright, CR, NARI’s Government Affairs Committee vice chair, added: “EPA’s current rules add costs to remodeling jobs regardless of whether people are at risk.  Higher costs, without an obvious link to protecting children and pregnant women, has prompted most home owners to do work themselves or to hire non-licensed contractors."

 

NARI also referred to President Obama’s Regulatory Reform Initiative requiring a top-to-bottom review of federal regulations to get rid of rules that are outdated and harmful to the economy.  The association takes the position that LRRP should be reformed to better accomplish its stated goal: to eliminate lead hazards in the home as a result of renovation activities.

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Effects of the RRP Rule, Amendments, Opt Out Related

Another Example of the Government Not Following Its Own Lead Rules

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 26, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

Another Example of the Government Not Following Its Own Lead Paint Rules

Did you know that our government has created its own exceptions to the rules and punishments it imposes on the rest of us?   Think insider trading rules for Congress.  One more example of this is that Federal agencies are required to comply with the same OSHA health and safety standards as private sector employers, but OSHA can’t propose monetary penalties against them for failure to comply with its standards.

National Park Service Violates Lead In Construction StandardsA recent example of this related to lead in construction is discussed in an OSHA News Release dated May 10, 2011.  According to the release OSHA had issued 16 notices of unhealthful and unsafe working conditions to the National Park Service-San Juan National Historic Site for violations of workplace health and safety standards, including exposing workers to lead and other hazards during lead paint encapsulation work in a building at the site. 

According to the release, The National Park Service was cited with violations related to lead hazards and included; not training employees on the recognition and avoidance of lead hazards, not conducting an initial lead exposure assessment, allowing lead to accumulate on floors, not providing clean change areas, not providing for laundering of protective clothing, allowing employees to leave the work area wearing protective clothing, inadequate hand-washing facilities and not notifying workers of their blood lead levels.

To make matters worse, OSHA considered these violations “willful”.  According to OSHA a willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Also according to OSHA, a serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Fit testing a respiratorAt the San Juan National Historic Site project eight alleged serious violations resulted from a lack of medical evaluations and fit-testing for employees using respirators, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, no eye-wash stations where employees worked with corrosive products, an uncovered electrical receptacle, a lack of hazard communication training and material data sheets of the products used, and not implementing hazard communication and written respiratory protection programs.

Hilda Solis“There is a new sheriff in town. Make no mistake about it; the Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business…  Under my watch, enforcement of labor laws will be intensified to provide an effective deterrent to employers who put their workers’ lives at risk.”
-Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, (March 2009)

Under Executive Order 12196 and Section 19 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the head of each federal agency is responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for employees. However, like many government jobs, there is typically no punishment if they don’t.  What would it have cost your business if it had committed the same violations?  According to Puerto Rico area director Jose A. Carpena, the identified hazards would have resulted in fines of $115,000 for a private sector employer. “The National Park Service must take effective action to correct these hazards and prevent them from occurring again,” he added.

Topics: OSHA Considerations, Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports, Non-RRP Lead Topics

EPA and EPA Regional Offices Contact Information for RRP Renovators

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 06:00 AM

Contact Information for EPA and EPA Regional Offices

The organized links below will bring you to specific web pages for the EPA main office as well as the 10 EPA regional offices around the country. This information can be used by Certified Renovators and Certified Firms to contact EPA regarding questions about the RRP Rule and to report RRP Violations.

Map showing EPA Regions by stateThe information on and the format of each page varies.   Some of the information found on the various pages may include:

  • Contact information
  • Office address locations
  • Links to access  FAQ databases and to ask questions
  • Policy information
  • Forms for reporting violations
  • Employee directories
  • Media contacts
  • Ability to report web site issues
  • TTY Numbers for the Hearing Impaired
  • Individual state environmental agency contact information

EPA Contact information

 

 

 

EPA Contact information:

EPA Main Contact Page

EPA Staff Directory by name and location

Region 1 - Boston

Region 2 - New York City

Region 3 - Philadelphia

Region 4 - Atlanta

Region 5 - Chicago

Region 6 - Dallas

Region 7 - Kansas City

Region 8 - Denver

Region 9 - San Francisco

Region 10 - Seattle

 

Directions to EPA Offices

 

 

 

Directions to EPA Offices:

Get directions to EPA headquarters

Get directions to regional offices

 

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Info for Landlords, Info for Trainers, EPA Contact Information

Double Trouble for RRP Renovators: OSHA and EPA to Work Together

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Feb 07, 2012 @ 02:55 PM

Double Trouble for RRP Renovators: OSHA and EPA to Work Together

I just became aware of a recent Memorandum of Understanding between OSHA and EPA that outlines how the two separate government agencies will work together in Region One (the northeast).  The memorandum clearly explains that the purpose of working together will be to “improve and optimize the combined efforts of the parties to achieve protection of workers, the public, and/or the environment at facilities subject to EPA and/or OSHA jurisdiction”.   The memorandum was not dated, and although it had place holders for the date in the signature area, neither agency’s Regional Administrator signing the memorandum dated their signature.

EPA and OSHA working together, joint inspections

The memorandum further explains the process and framework for notification, training, consultation, and coordination between them to more effectively support the two agencies’ enforcement programs.  It specifically lists two special enforcement initiatives:

  • OSHA’s Lead in Construction standard
  • EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

I found out about this memorandum at the Contractor Coaching Partnership Blog titled “Region 1 EPA and OSHA to work together on RRP/OSHA enforcement”.  In the blog Mark Paskell highlights from the memorandum some of the ways OSHA and EPA will work together.  Here is one highlight renovators will be sure to find sobering:

“EPA and OSHA may conduct joint inspections as appropriate to carry out the purposes of their respective statutory authorities. Such inspections may be coordinated in advance but may also be scheduled on an ad-hoc basis.”

RRP Violations, OSHA violations, OSHA and RRP violationsWith spring only a short time away, contractors will soon be working outdoors again in the northeast.  This will make the work they do and the work practices they use much more visible to OSHA and EPA.  Consider yourself warned and get ready.  In additional to the work practices required under RRP rules, there are plenty of OSHA regulations and requirements as well.  If you don’t have written safety plans for the work your business performs, or if you have not provided the required safety training and equipment for your workers, you might become an easy target. 

Whether guilty or not, know your rights as a business if you are visited.  As a business, if written up by a government agency, you will be considered guilty until you prove your innocence, at your own expense.   How you handle the visit can make a big difference.  See this previous RRPedia post for guidance on how to handle a request for information should either OSHA or EPA drop by to collect information or send a request your way.

Topics: OSHA Considerations, Enforcement and Inspections, OSHA - EPA Challenges, EPA Announcements

What to do if EPA Sends You a Request for RRP Information

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 05, 2012 @ 06:00 AM

What to do if EPA Sends You a Request for Information

Recently I found an article written by Anne E. Viner, a principle attorney at the Chicago law firm of Much Shelist, P.C.  In her article Anne offers several practical tips for responding to governmental requests for information.  I thought her article was well written, straight forward and easy for a contractor to understand.   I got her permission to share some highlights here on RRPedia.

Anne E. Viner, Much Shelist, P.C.Anne points out that EPA Administrator Lisa was quoted to say “EPA is back on the job" and that EPA has received the largest enforcement budget in its history, making it more likely that your business will be subject to some type of investigation.
Below are some practical tips from Anne to keep in mind when your business receives a request for information from any government agency, not just from EPA regarding the RRP Rule.  (I have summarized quite a bit, click here to see her full article.)  This information should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.

  • Don’t respond to verbal requests:  It is important to get all requests in writing, so that all parties clearly understand the scope of the information sought and the time period covered by the request.  Without a written request, you risk being accused of failing to fully comply with a verbal request that you may have simply misunderstood. Asking the government to put its inquiry in writing is within your rights.

  • Determine if the government has authority to seek the information requested: Help with RRP Although a written request for information should specify the statutory authority for the request, don't assume that the agency actually has the cited authority.   Knowing the source of the government's authority for the request, as well as determining the applicability of the request to your business, is imperative in both limiting the scope of your response and protecting your business interests with customers and other parties that may be affected by the request.

  • Voluntary compliance versus litigation:  Your business should be aware of the pros and cons of voluntary compliance versus requiring the government to follow more formal procedures such as issuing a subpoena or filing a lawsuit. Generally, cooperation is the better course at the early stages of an investigation. On the flip side, refusing to voluntarily comply with a governmental request may subject you to higher scrutiny and or administrative penalties.  Of course, cooperation is not always an option, so understanding the risks of fighting with the government is essential at the outset.

  • Assume your company is a target and involve counsel early in the process:  Regardless of the apparent target of the government's inquiry, assume that your business is, in fact, under investigation and may be subject to fines, penalties or otherwise embroiled in a civil or criminal enforcement action.  An experienced environmental attorney can help advise your business concerning its rights and responsibilities.

  • Be honest:  As we all learned in childhood, honesty is the best policy.  Handling the request in an inappropriate manner could result in claims of obstruction of justice, interfering with investigations, or other types of administrative and civil violations.

Topics: Compliance Options, Enforcement and Inspections, Legal Considerations, OSHA - EPA Challenges