The 6 year-old EPA RRP Rule requires that firms or individuals performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 use Certified Renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers and follow lead-safe work practices.
So what does this mean for you? It means that if you work on buildings built before 1978 you need to be certified or you are breaking the law.
Most contractors (or their firm/company) will use the EPA guidelines and forms. However, contractors in 14 states (AL, DE, GA, IA, KS, MA, MS, NC, OK, OR, RI, UT, WA, or WI) need to apply directly to their state program. We call states with their own regulations “authorized.”
Before we go farther, you need to know there is a difference between firm/company certification, or license, and personal certification, given to the employee(s) who have attended formal training.
Company Licensing (Firm Certification)
Bottom line, any company that is writing business in this field must be licensed. This license is what gives your company legal permission to write a contract and proceed with the work in the state where you hold the license. Think of the license like your car license plates. You need to have your car registered and your license plates current in order to put it on the road. It is much the same with the EPA (or authorized state) RRP license. You need to “register” (apply) to receive your “license plates” (RRP license) in order to work in this field. Also, because there are differences between authorized and EPA non-authorized license requirements, you need to understand how that impacts your company’s ability to cross state lines:
QUESTION: If my company was licensed (certified) in Massachusetts, an authorized state, does the company need a separate license to work in New Hampshire?
ANSWER: Yes. Reciprocity is only for personal certifications, not a company license.
Be aware that your company license is good for five years and allows you to legally write contracts and work in this field. Visit www.leadsmarttraining.com as we have links to the forms you need for both the EPA non-authorized and the Massachusetts authorized state licenses.
Q: Is there a fee to become licensed?
A: Yes, when you submit your application, you include payment of $300 to the EPA. Authorized state fees may vary and information will be included with the authorized state application.
Q: Do the subcontractors my company hires need licenses?
A: Yes. Any company working on a job site needs a company license. That means that any and all subcontractors must be licensed.
Q: I work for myself and have no employees. Do I need this?
A: Yes. If you do not have anyone withholding payroll taxes from you, you are considered a company and must be licensed (certified).
When are you applying for the EPA company license and paying the fee, as the owner, you are agreeing that your company will do the following:
- • Ensure overall compliance with the RRP Rule.
- • Ensure that all renovation personnel are Certified Renovators (the trained employee) or have been trained on-the-job by Certified Renovators.
- • Assign a Certified Renovator to all jobs.
- • Meet pre-renovation education requirements.
- • Meet recordkeeping requirements
There are no training requirement for companies. However, since there are legal requirements that the owner is committing to, it would be advisable for the owner to take the training. Otherwise, they should read the law. And remember, authorized states may have different requirements so be sure to check with your state office if you work in an authorized state.
A major part of complying with the law is making sure you have at least one employee who has been appropriately trained and certified. The EPA calls trained and certified workers “Certified Renovators.” To become a Certified Renovator:
- • An individual must take an EPA-approved 8-hour training course from an EPA-accredited training provider.
- • The course completion certificate serves to certify renovators (no application to EPA is required).
- • Refresher training is a 4-hour course required every 5 years.
- • Workers do not need certification so long as on-the-job training is received from a Certified Renovator and the work is not HUD-regulated.
Remember, authorized state certifications, fees, and titles may be different. For example, the Massachusetts equivalent to a Certified Renovator is called Lead-Safe Renovation Supervisor. Among other things, this individual must be assigned to a project, be responsible for the project, be on site at all times, and can only train company employees. This person cannot train subcontractors. As with company licensing, if you are working in an authorized state, make sure you check the requirements specific to the state.
Q: What if I am a Certified Renovator in New Hampshire. Can I work on projects in Massachusetts?
A: Generally, yes. You, as a Certified Renovator, can work for any licensed company. There may be additional requirements in authorized states, so be sure to check.
Certified Renovators have several responsibilities:
- • Perform work and direct lead-safe work practices.
- • Provide on-the-job training to non-certified workers.
- • Keep copy of the initial and/or refresher training certificates onsite. This is important. Just because you have renewed your Certified Renovator certification does not mean you can toss your original training certificate. That document, along with all refresher training certificates need to be kept together on the job site.
- • When requested, use EPA-recognized test kits or, alternatively, collect paint chip samples for laboratory lead analysis to identify lead-based paint.
- • Be physically present while posting signs, containing work areas, and cleaning work areas.
- • Be available by telephone when off-site.
- • Maintain the containment to keep dust and debris within the work area.
- • Implement the cleaning verification procedure.
- • Prepare and maintain required records.
As always, make sure you check if you are in an authorized state as they may have additional requirements.
This past April, the EPA extended the certifications of certain contractor specialties under the RRP rule. This applies to Certified Renovators only, NOT company licenses. Basically, the EPA is looking to revise the refresher training course requirements and decided that certain areas should have their expiration extended so that if changes are finalized, the Certified Renovator can take the updated refresher course to renew certification.
To find out if you fall under this extension, call the National Lead Information Center at 800.424.LEAD (5323) or read the blog post just previous to this one.
Q: If I fall under the extension, can I still work on RRP jobs?
A: YES — If you are in an EPA certified state and fall under the extension provision, you are extended for the time indicated in the reference the table found on the EPA website at www2.epa.gov/lead/getcertified. This does not apply to firm certifications.
Q: Does this extension apply to authorized states, such as Massachusetts?
A: Not in MA. Check with your state to find out. According to our discussion with MA DLS, you need two of the items on a MA RRP Jobsite to be considered legal:
- • A valid FIRM CERTIFICATE
- • A valid LSR-S (MA Supervisor) or a valid EPA CR (Certified Renovator) who is assigned to the project.
Valid means not expired. MA does not intend on extending the expiration dates of training certificates. So even though they reciprocate and honor EPA certificates, the expiration date on the certificate of training remains intact.
Contractors in the New England area can go to www.leadsmarttraining.com for training information in their area. Contractors outside of New England can go to http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_training.htm to find a local training provider.
Q: What happens if my certificate expires and I do not renew during the grace period?
A: You start the process all over again. It is as if you were never a Certified Renovator.
Q: How can I renew my worker certification?
A: Check the schedule at www.leadsmarttraining.com for classes in New England. For contractors outside the LeadSMART area, the EPA site provides a link to a listing of your local RRP training classes. If you are in an authorized state, you need use that state’s forms and follow their regulations. Don’t forget, you will need to present your original certificate as part of the renewal process.
The EPA is serious about RRP Rule enforcement and not because they enjoy collecting fines. The rules and regulations were put in place to protect the health of employees and customers. Lead presents a serious and well-documented health risk. To avoid the fines, lost business, and a hit to your company’s reputation that will result from not following the RRP Rule, make sure you understand what your responsibilities are. EPA penalties alone can be severe:
- • EPA may suspend, revoke, or modify a firm’s certification if the Certified Firm or Certified Renovator is found to be in non-compliance.
- • Those firms found to be non-compliant may be liable for civil penalties of up to $37,500 for each violation.
- • Those firms who knowingly or willfully violate this regulation may be subject to fines of up to an additional $37,500 per violation, or imprisonment, or both.
We know this can be confusion and are here to help you. If you have a question on a site situation or upcoming project, feel free to contact the LeadSMART office and ask for me, Peter. Our help is free of charge and we are not EPA agents so we welcome you to speak freely. Located in Southern New Hampshire and covering CT, MA, ME, NH, and VT, you can reach us at 508.731.6054 or 888.731.LEAD (5323).
Peter Lawton & the LeadSMART Team