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July 26, 2010

EPA Lead-Paint Certification Doesn't Meet OSHA Requirements

New EPA lead paint rules went into effect April 22, but following those rules won't keep you in compliance with OSHA regulations.

The EPA rules are intended to protect building residents - especially children - from lead hazards, but EPA rules don't address worker safety concerns for people handling lead-contaminated material. OSHA lead regulations have been in place for nearly two decades, and apply to any work where employees come into contact with any level of lead or lead-bearing coatings.

The required EPA lead certification process includes an 8-hour certification class for supervisors, but the class covers only EPA requirements - not OSHA worker protection rules. So, EPA certification is no guarantee that firms understand or comply with OSHA lead regulations.

Where EPA and OSHA Differ
There are several key areas where the EPA rule differs from current OSHA requirements, including:
    Blue_Bullet_SmallLead threshold level (Over .05% by weight for EPA; Any amount for OSHA) 
    Blue_Bullet_SmallRegulated areas
    Blue_Bullet_SmallWritten compliance program
    Blue_Bullet_SmallRespirator use
    Blue_Bullet_SmallProtective clothing 
    Blue_Bullet_SmallAnnual training
    Blue_Bullet_SmallHygiene facilities
    Blue_Bullet_SmallMedical surveillance and biological monitoring

Contractors must comply with both EPA and OSHA regulations. EPA fines can be as high as $65,000 per violation, including a potential prison term. Failing to meet OSHA standards can also lead to fines. The new EPA rule also removes a provision from existing regulations that allowed owner-occupants of pre-1978 homes to ignore lead-safe work practices if there were no children under age six in the home.

Because contractors in some areas may have difficulty accessing training classes, EPA recently announced that it is allowing additional time to obtain training and certifications to comply with the new lead rules. EPA will not take enforcement action for violations of the firm certification requirement until October 1, 2010, and will not enforce certification requirements against individual renovation workers if they apply to enroll in certified renovator classes by September 30, 2010 and complete the training by December 31, 2010.

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