It’s estimated that over 40 percent of all homes in the United States still have lead-based paint somewhere in the home. Older structures, specifically those built or renovated before 1978, commonly used lead-based paint both on exterior siding and interior walls. Lead helped the paint dry faster, so these paints were often favored by contractors and homeowners alike. Since then, the EPA has placed rules and regulations governing the renovation of homes with lead-based paint, forcing contractors to become certified in the proper handling techniques.
The rule, which is part of the Toxic Substances Control Act, stipulates that all renovations on homes built before 1978 must comply with proper lead handling methods or be subject to fines. Those performing the renovations must obtain a certification in proper handling procedures.
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Who Needs to be Certified?
Generally speaking, anyone who will handle lead-based paint in the course of a renovation or remodeling project will be subject to the EPA’s rule. This includes general contractors, independent or single-person firms, and professional painters. These crews, regardless of size, are expected to comply with the regulations to the fullest extent, or else be subject to extensive fines, the exact amount based on the severity of the violation. Each firm, no matter how large or small, should be certified in proper lead handling techniques so they can comply with the EPA’s regulations.
What Does Compliance Involve?
Before beginning any work on a project, the renovation firm must provide all occupants of the building with the EPA’s pamphlet, educating them on the risks of lead and lead poisoning. This will help them better understand the health problems and symptoms associated with lead poisoning and illustrate the importance of proper containment methods used by the renovation team.
For every project where workers are expected to handle lead, a certified individual must be present on site while the work is performed. Many firms choose to certify their project leaders and managers for this reason. The certified individual must then provide on-the-job training to the rest of the crew, supervising and directing them on how to safely handle contaminated paint and dust from the project.
Once work begins, the area must be sealed off, to reduce the risk of contamination spreading to safe areas of the building. After the renovations are complete, the area must be thoroughly cleaned and tested for remaining lead contamination. Should any be detected, the area must be cleaned until the lead is no longer present. Every step of the project’s compliance should be documented to prove to the EPA that everything is up to code.
Is Certification Necessary for Every Project?
Luckily, there are some exemptions for the certification requirement. If the renovation project is for a building constructed after 1978 or the project will fix an area under 6 square feet inside or 20 square feet outside, certification is not required. Similarly, if the homeowner is performing repairs or renovations on their own property, the certification is not needed.
Any large-scale renovation completed by an experienced contractor or team should have at least one certified individual on hand throughout the entire project. This ensures that the entire renovation is completed in compliance so that the contractor can avoid any unnecessary fines or fees assessed by the EPA.
As of yet, the EPA hasn’t furnished any plans or guidelines to illustrate how the agency plans to enforce compliance with the rule, though that is expected to change. If there are no issues following renovation, it’s unlikely that the EPA would ask for proof of compliance.
However, if a homeowner or occupant is injured as a result of lead poisoning after the renovation is complete, they or their physician may contact the EPA to ask for an investigation. If the contractor completed all work in compliance with the rule and has the documentation to prove they followed procedure, the EPA will likely not hold them liable for damages to the occupant.
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Certification Benefits Contractors and Crews
Aside from reducing the risk of fines and fees, certification also provides contractors with the resources and knowledge they need to do the best job possible, protecting their clients and their crew members. Lead-based paint causes a large number of health complications in both adults and children as well as unprotected crew members.
Should the lead-based paint be degraded into a fine dust, the particles can go airborne. If a renovation crew is not following proper procedures or protecting themselves against contaminants day after day, they may experience symptoms of lead poisoning, some of which include:
The last thing a contractor wants is for their crew to get injured on the job. Most certification programs teach the proper ways to keep contaminated waste from spreading to other areas as well as the proper precautions for crew members to take to protect themselves.
EPA fines often halt the progress of a project, forcing the crew to change pace and get the site up to compliance standards before continuing their work. These delays, on top of EPA fines, can take their toll on a contractor’s budget while also inconveniencing clients, increasing the time it takes to finish the project.
Certification helps each crew maintain compliance throughout the renovation, reducing the downtime and eliminating the risk of surprise expenses from costly fines. While there is some upfront cost associated with the training, being ready to provide onsite risk assessment without hiring an outside contractor reduces expenses and streamlines the process significantly.
ZOTA Professional’s experienced training team provides a wide range of training courses with local instructors across the United States. Whether a contractor is looking to get lead certified for the first time, needs a refresher course to stay up to date with changing regulations, or wants a crew member to become a certified risk assessor to reduce downtime on the project, ZOTA Pro can help. Their courses are designed to provide a completely comprehensive training to ensure compliance with the EPA’s guidelines and regulations.