Will You Help Enforce the EPA Rules?
Many in the industry have problems with the EPA's lead paint rules. But I've also heard many argue that if the laws are in the books, they need to be enforced. WDDA representatives were in Washington just yesterday making the argument that enforcement of current regulations need to begin before EPA expands its those requirements further.
Well, it doesn't mean the EPA doesn't want to move forward with the addition of lead clearance tests, but enforcement of current rules has started. The federal agency has filed its first case against a Maine contractor for not following lead-safe work procedures on a multifamily housing unit. He reportedly faces a minimum fine of $150,000.
The case was the result of an anonymous video post on YouTube. When I read that, I wondered who would do that? A competitor? A disgruntled employee? I also decided it would be interesting to see how many of you out there might report such a violation. So, that's our poll question of the week. And, of course, I'd like to hear from you too. Why would you be willing to do such a thing? O why not? Is the punishment too harsh? Should contractors get a warning first? And, now that it's clear there will be some enforcement, what do you think the impact will be? Do you expect stepped up enforcement will help those companies that are following the rules? Post a comment or email me and share your thoughts.
Survey Results as of 05/24/2011:
Would You Report RRP Rule Violations?
No, I prefer to mind my own business.
Possibly, but not sure.
Yes, I would.
Yes, I already have.
News that EPA has filed its first case against a contractor for violating lead safe work rules stirred up quite a reaction. As can be seen in some of the comments, the idea of a $150,000 fine that's likely to put someone out of business does not sit well with many readers. That thought, and continued disagreement with the rules, probably drives the majority vote among respondents that say they wouldn't report violations of the EPA rules.
One reader, "furious about that video," wrote, "We abide by the rules that were written by the lawyers," but firmly believes what the EPA is doing is overkill. "I’m a small contractor in Chicago and I have to tell you the homes I’m in that were built before 1978 have lead everywhere. It’s on the walls, baseboards, door jambs. Every time they open the door or push furniture they disturb lead, yet I have to put up walls, contain the area, suit up, put up caution signs, etc, etc. After we leave (the occupants) still are surrounded by lead that gets disturbed on a daily basis. The biggest issue I have with their system is the amount of plastic that is wasted and can never be recycled. What happens to all of that plastic that we are all using? I want to know how I can help fight the EPA on their ridiculous process. Lead is everywhere!! You cannot escape it."
"We sell and install replacement windows as one part of our full service fenestration business….Our production manager, re-measure and service managers are all AAMA certified Master Installers, they are also lead certified….We do the job the right way, lead tests, permits, correct DP rated windows," writes another reader. Based on past experience, "involving local code officials usually backfires" when it comes to reporting violators of various regulations, he continues, however.
"This industry needs to start policing itself before some one else does it for us," he asserts. "All the lead mitigation rules have done is made us one level more un-competitive against those that 'play' the system. I would love to see you guys come out in support of cleaning up the industry….from mis-labeled DP ratings on windows to the guys 'gaming' the replacement window and home improvement business they all need to be held accountable…"
Personally, I don't know whether I'm ready to stand up and support an initiative to "clean up the industry," but I do think we–both the window and door and remodeling/construction industries in general–should be more proactive. We can't just argue and fight with EPA. We need to try and propose reasonable, effective rules and procedures to protect children, our workers and the public in general against the dangers of lead.
And as much as we disagree with the EPA rules as written, we need to remember that there are cases where contractors endangering children and/or their workers. We need to be proactive here too. I don't like the idea of anonymously posting videos on the internet, but I do think a phone call or email to the proper authorities can be the right thing to do.