July 11, 2011

Alison Harris, 617-626-7121
Bonnie McGilpin, 617-626-7176

Massachusetts Regulation Requires Contractors to Work Lead-Safe by Preventing the Spread of Lead Dust During Renovation, Repair and Painting Projects

July 11, 2011 - Boston, MA - In Massachusetts, the state's Department of Labor Standards enforces the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Renovation Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule under its Deleading and Lead-Safe regulations.

Homes and other structures built before 1978 may contain lead paint. If a residence or a building that contains a child occupied facility is going to be renovated, and the contractor does not follow lead-safe work practices in carrying out work that disturbs lead paint, lead-containing dust may be produced.

Lead-contaminated dust can cause lead poisoning in children, pregnant women, contractors and other workers, their families, and even pets. In children under 6 years of age, it may cause learning problems, developmental problems, behavioral problems, attention deficit disorder, language delay, anemia and damage to the nervous system. In adults, elevated blood lead levels can cause high blood pressure, memory loss, sexual disorders, and physical fatigue. In both children and adults, the effects of elevated lead levels can cause permanent damage. This public health problem results in billions of dollars in health care costs to taxpayers and the government.

The state's Department of Labor Standards Deleading and Lead-Safe Renovation regulation, 454 CMR 22.00 requires training, licensing and safe work practice requirements for renovation, repair and painting work - conducted for a fee - that disturbs lead paint in any residence or building that contains a child-occupied facility built before 1978.

The state's regulation requires:

  1. Contractors and other entities that carry out work covered by these requirements must be licensed as "Lead-Safe Renovation Contractors" by the state's Department of Labor Standards. Affected occupations include, but are not limited to, painters, plumbers, electricians, window installers, general contractors, property maintenance workers, and remodelers.
  2. A "Lead-Safe Renovator-Supervisor" or "Certified Renovator" must be on site and in control of the work at all times when the work is in progress.
  3. The work must be carried out in accordance with work practice requirements specified in 454 CMR 22.00, including, but not limited to: testing of suspect materials, work area isolation or delineation, exclusion of untrained personnel, covering of objects, acceptable work methods, cleanup and cleaning verification. Certain recordkeeping and notification requirements are also required.
  • BE AWARE that any work that disturbs 20 square feet of painted surface on the exterior or more than 6 square feet per room on the interior, of a property built before 1978, is subject to this regulation.
  • ASK to see a contractor's Lead Safe Renovator Contractor License and training certificate from an authorized trainer before hiring him/her. These licenses and training certificates are valid for a period of 5 years.
  • INFORM your contractor that you expect them to work lead-safe.
  • NOTICE unsafe work practices that spread lead dust and debris beyond the work area.
  • REPORT contractors or properties that you believe are in violation of this regulation to DLS.

The Department of Labor Standards representatives have been meeting with local building and health departments, contractor groups, trade and professional associations to provide information and educate the regulated community and homeowners and property owners about RRP. In addition, the Department of Labor Standards inspectors inspect job sites daily to check for compliance and enforce the RRP rule. Violations of the Department of Labor Standards RRP rule may result in a civil administrative penalty up to $5,000 per violation. The Department of Labor Standards has fined contractors for violating this law. If you are a contractor, make sure you comply with the RRP rule.

For more information, to report a concern, or to ask for assistance, contact the Department of Labor Standards at www.mass.gov/dols or 617-969-7177.