Recently a new federal rule regarding “lead-safe” practices took effect, and the implementation of the measure has far-reaching consequences for all trades involved in renovation projects for pre-1978 residential and commercial properties. For starters, all workers involved in these projects must have special EPA certification, which can be attained by taking a one-day course. In addition, workers must use special protective gear, including air filters, goggles and hoods. Work sites must be protected by plastic sheeting, and special vacuums must be used during cleanup.

For installers who are already struggling through the recession, the expense of taking a day off work, as well as the need to purchase additional equipment, will likely be a difficult pill to swallow. Considering that major firms such as Lowes and Home Depot are requiring the certification for all the installers they employ, this presents a difficult decision for those who work for these stores. Hopefully, these firms will help to subsidize the expense of such training to make it accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial circumstances.

In the last issue of Floor Covering Installer, we featured an article by Jon Namba on indoor air quality issues, which discussed the importance of using proper equipment such as ventilator masks and HEPA-equipped vacuums to minimize airborne contaminants in your installations. By adopting these practices as part of their routine, installers can protect their health and the health of their customers, and eliminate safety issues from airborne contaminants. Installers who receive the necessary training and certification will also have an advantage over their uncertified colleagues when it comes to hiring for remodeling projects on pre-1978 structures. Since the remodeling market will likely recover before new construction does, this is a very important factor to consider when deciding to become certified.

Between the growing importance of green building practices and the new EPA lead rule, installers now have good reason to invest in the training and equipment upgrades necessary to comply with these new safety rules. While these practices may seem a time-consuming inconvenience now, they will soon be the exception, not the rule.

To learn more about RRP Lead Certification, visit the EPA website at epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm