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The Environmental Protection Agency is relying on tips and has begun stepping up its inspections and enforcement of the Lead: Renovation, Repair & Painting (RRP) rule, an associate director with the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said at a free webinar hosted by the NAHB Remodelers on Dec. 14.
While only three lead-paint rule enforcement actions were taken during fiscal 2011, the EPA’s Don Lott said 2012 will be much busier. He noted that the agency already has conducted 1,000 compliance inspections, with more to follow.
EPA inspections, conducted by inspectors from regional offices, can include job site inspections as well as recordkeeping audits that focus on complying with lead-safe work practices, Lott said.
During the webinar, Lott and Matt Watkins, an NAHB environmental policy analyst, discussed how the EPA is enforcing compliance and pursuing violations. The rule is enforced in all 50 states, however 12 states administer the rule on their own.
Of the firms inspected to date, Lott said, 60% had not been certified under the rule. He also said the EPA is employing several different enforcement strategies, but it is relying heavily on tips and complaints reported on its hotline and compliance and enforcement Web page.
On average, Lott said the EPA receives about 400 tips and complaints a month about uncertified firms and unsafe lead work practices. To fully investigate a tip, the EPA requires complainants to provide as much information as possible — including the company’s name and address as well as a description of the project and any activity that is noncompliant with the rule.
When determining compliance, the EPA examines a company’s lead-safe work practices, training and recordkeeping — with work practices the agency’s highest priority, Lott said.
Though all three compliance components are required under the lead rule, Lott said that violations are weighted more heavily, and that violations causing a direct health risk are weighted the heaviest.
In addition to seeking proof of certification and training under the rule, Lott said inspectors are examining records and looking for notations about what lead-safe practices are being used in projects.
Watkins advised remodelers to keep required records for three years, as stipulated in the rule.
Watkins and staff members from government affairs and general counsel also brought webinar attendees up to date on NAHB’s ongoing efforts to make the lead-paint rule, as well as its administration and enforcement, as reasonable and cost-effective as possible.
Finalized in April 2008, the lead paint rule was revised in August 2011 with input from NAHB Remodelers.
Free Webinar Recording Available
A free recording of the webinar will be available on Webinar Rewind on the NAHB website beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Members also will be able read and download documents and slides from the webinar.