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Lead Safe Work Practices: What’s the Deal?

In April 2010, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) enacted the Lead Safe Work Practices Law. This law requires contractors to be Lead Safe certified and test all homes prior to 1978 for lead paint. If the home tests positive, the contractor must perform lead safe work practices, including taping off all openings to minimize lead dust, vacuuming any dust with Hepa vacuums, and thoroughly cleaning all work areas upon installation. The contractor must present the owner of the home with a Lead Safe pamphlet and a receipt of this delivery must be signed by the owner.

Once the work is completed, the certified lead safe specialist on the job must inspect all openings to ensure a clean work area and no presence of lead dust before the job is complete. The most important part of my job has always been making sure my clients are happy with the final outcome of their project, and most importantly, their home is more efficient. Now, we have some added pressure: we must ensure that our customers’ homes are not contaminated with lead dust!

Lead dust can be deadly, especially to children. Our team makes it our mission to leave the home lead dust free.

But the problem in our industry is that 90% of contractors are not lead certified and we are fighting an uphill paperwork and competition battle. All too often I’ve heard contractors say, “I’m not getting lead certified; it’s a bunch of hot air.” Well, I didn’t think so and now some pretty substantial cases are coming to the forefront. This year the EPA has proposed fines of $785,000 for a large scale window company in Michigan and a $1.2 M fine for a Washington remodeling firm.

In my opinion the Lead Safe work practices may be a little bit of a paperwork nightmare and a little time consuming on the job site, but is it all too much in comparison to a child with lead contamination? The answer is No. As a father of two, I don’t want that on my conscience. We will take the high road on the Lead Safe Work practices law. Sure, we are going to lose some jobs because we will be a little higher priced than “Contractor Joe” but at least we wil leave homes safer than we found them, with our heads high, while not skirting the law — one job at a time.  -Jimmy Murphy, President