Claims file: New lead regulations

Home Columns Claims file: New lead regulations

by Lew Migliore

As if business for floor covering companies was not hard enough with new asbestos regulations for testing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued new regulations about lead paint that affects all contractors who work in older facilities. If you are disturbing a structure during the course of doing your job, stirring up dust or removing components— which you certainly will be installing flooring materials— this rule will affect your company. The regulation, effective as of April 22, covers setting up the job safely, minimizes the creation of dangerous lead dust and leaves the work area clean and safe for occupants after completing the restoration job.

What’s affected?

Under the authority of section 402 (c) (3) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the EPA addressed hazards created by renovation, repairs, and painting activities that disturb lead-based paint in target housing and child-occupied facilities.

Target housing is defined as any housing constructed before 1978, except that intended for the elderly or persons with disabilities above age 6, or any zero bedroom dwelling. Conversely, a child-occupied facility is a building constructed before 1978, visited regularly by the same child under 6 years of age at least two different days within any week, provided that each day’s visit lasts at least 3 hours and the combined annual visits total at least 60 hours. Child occupied facilities are located in public or commercial buildings or in target housing.

The revisions established requirements for renovators and other renovation workers; dust sampling technicians; certifying renovators and renovation firms; renovation work practices, and for recordkeeping.

Sounds complicated. What else would you expect from a government regulation?

How it affects you

The largest primary concern is with baseboards, window casings and molding. Very often walls will be painted and the trim not, or the trim may be covered by another coat of paint. If you bang, scratch, nick, or gouge one of these painted surfaces and chips come off, you’ve got a lead paint issue on your hands.

I’m not sure how all of this is going to play out relative to who is going to determine if there is lead paint or if you really disturbed it—especially if you’re just changing the flooring material— but to be safe, you have to cover your assets.

Though this regulation primarily focuses on work that directly affects surfaces covered in lead paint, it encompasses jobs that may disturb walls painted with lead. This inevitably occurs during floor covering installation and that means this law applies to floor covering contractors. Make sure you’re aware of this and remember, ignorance is no excuse for the law. You’re required to be aware of any law that affects a construction project. Pleading ignorance is no defense.

Go to epa.gov/lead/pubs/steps.pdf for additional information. New 8-hour certification courses are being organized across the U.S. and the cost is $250. Compliance is not option- al for your company and if you get involved in a matter involving lead paint, fines start at $32,500. This regulation includes work done by the floor covering industry so it is imperative to be aware of it.

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