Home remodelers get more time to complete lead paint safety trainingContractors who haven’t been certified to work around lead paint have gotten a reprieve. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has pushed back the deadline to Dec. 31.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
Contractors who haven’t been certified to work around lead paint have gotten a reprieve. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has pushed back the deadline to Dec. 31.
Back in April, as the deadline neared for the contractors’ required lead safety practices training, industry officials argued there weren’t enough certified trainers to do it.
“They were pushing the EPA not to eliminate the rule, but to drop it back,” said Paul Manning, executive officer of the Arrowhead Builders Association.
Only a fraction of the contractors in the country had gotten the training. In Duluth, only 90 of more than 1,000 remodelers, painters, plumbers and electricians who should get trained had, Manning said.
Many contractors were unaware of the new requirement or couldn’t get the training, leaving them open to fines of up to $37,500 per instance.
Then came floods that ravaged parts of Tennessee.
It took that natural disaster for the EPA to budge, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Certified remodelers to do the home repairs were in short supply. Without the training, contractors are barred from doing work that disturbs lead-based paint.
So the EPA has pushed back the deadline. Contractors now have until Sept. 30 to get certified or at least signed up for the training, which must be completed by Dec. 31.
“It’s wonderful news,” Manning said of the extension. “The biggest problem was the EPA made the decision to mandate the training, and there was not enough time to get everyone trained.”
In the meantime, those who haven’t gone through the one-day training won’t face hefty penalties for working around lead paint, though they’re still expected to take precautions to protect children and reduce lead exposure.
Since the earlier April 22 deadline, the number of trainers in Minnesota has increased from three to six, Manning said. In the Duluth area, about 250 contractors have now been trained. That leaves 750 or more to go.
Ray Sundberg, co-owner of J&R Sundberg Construction in Duluth, wasn’t surprised by the extension.
“The whole thing came so quick, it was not well advertised,” he said. “A lot of contractors literally signed up the day before (the April 22 deadline). I signed up a couple of weeks before. The class was full.”
He got his certification on April 21, just beating the deadline.
The Arrowhead Builders Association began offering the class in January at a cost of $225 per person.
EPA lead containment procedures are required when contractors disturb 6 square feet in homes built before 1978 when paint contained lead. Protective suits and masks, a wall of plastic sheeting, warning tape and record keeping are all required. Cleanup must include vacuuming and washing the work area and safely disposing of debris .
“It’s certainly not helping us in a tough economy,” Sundberg said of the extra time and costs that will be passed on to the consumer. “We’re trying to keep our prices as reasonable as possible.”
While contracting firms can send one worker through training, Dan Merritt, owner of Northern Trends Building & Design in Duluth has sent seven employees. Seventy-five percent of their projects involve older homes.
“Surprisingly enough, they say it isn’t much more work,” Merritt said. “They say it didn’t take that much longer.”
Contractors don’t have to follow the EPA procedures if the property owner certifies that no child younger than 6 and no pregnant woman occupy the premises. The procedure also doesn’t apply to homeowners completing do-it-yourself projects.