Beginning April 22, 2010, contractors who perform renovation activities in residential homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 must be certified and follow specific lead-safe work practices to prevent lead contamination.
While this new requirement will apply nationwide under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, Wisconsin recently passed an emergency administrative rule adopting the EPA requirements at the state level. (Wisconsin’s rule is available at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/erules/dhs163_EmR0928.pdf). As a result, contractors performing renovation activities in Wisconsin will be required to obtain certification through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (“WDHS”), instead of the EPA. Wisconsin is the first state to receive federal approval to enforce the new EPA standards at the state level. Wisconsin’s emergency rule is expected to be finalized April 2010.
Why this rule was enacted:
Both the EPA and Wisconsin rules were enacted to combat lead poisoning in America. According to the EPA, “lead poisoning is the number one environmental hazard threatening children in the United States.” Lead is highly toxic to humans and exposure can result in learning disabilities, developmental delays, kidney damage, coma, and even death. Lead contaminated dust, caused by the disruption of lead paint through common renovation activities such as sanding, cutting, and demolition, is the most significant source of lead exposure in humans. The use of lead paint in residential homes was banned in 1978. Thus, both the EPA and Wisconsin rules focus on residential homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978.
What this new requirement means:
Under this new requirement, all companies, individuals and government agencies who perform or offer to perform renovation activities will need to be certified by the WDHS and pay an applicable certification fee. In addition, at least one individual per renovation crew will need to be certified by completing the appropriate lead-safe training course. Moreover, renovators are required under the new rule to distribute lead-safe information to interested parties as well as implement lead-safe work practices to all renovation sites. Due to the widespread impact of the new regulations, renovators should begin the certification process early and keep records of both the certification process as well as all lead-safe work practices implemented on the job. For more information on this, please see Wisconsin’s emergency rule available at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/erules/dhs163_EmR0928.pdf. The Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center, Inc. also provides a brief overview of the rule’s basic requirements at http://www.mlaic.com/EPArenovatorrule.htm.
Who this rule affects:
WDHS estimates that this new rule will affect approximately 756,000 facilities throughout Wisconsin. Moreover, WDHS notes that this new rule will impact individuals and companies not only in the construction industry, but also property owners, public school districts, local governments, as well as those working in the real estate, waste management and social assistance industries.
If you think Wisconsin’s new lead-safe requirements may affect you, please contact one of the authors of this alert or your Michael Best attorney.