Under the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP) enacted on April 22, 2008, contractors performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of painted surfaces in homes and child occupied facilities, including day care centers and schools, built before 1978 must be certified and follow lead safe work practices. Contractors performing renovation projects in these targeted facilities must also comply with the specific work practices of the RRP Rule to prevent lead contamination.

The RRP encompasses various renovation work including painting, sanding, demolition, roofing, window replacement, plumbing-electrical work, heating and air conditioning, and generally work performed by construction tradesmen as well as maintenance personnel employed by schools, rental property owners, and day care providers. The RRP Rule applies to private, public, governmental and non-profit entities, and requires contractors to test existing paint surfaces for lead content before disturbing the surfaces or in the alternative assume and treat the surfaces as containing lead-based paint. Recently, the EPA clarified its enforcement of the RRP Rule regarding lead-based paint during post-disaster renovations.

Under the emergency provision of the RRP rule, contractors performing activities that are immediately necessary to protect personal property and public health do not need RRP training or certification and are exempt from the RRP Rule requirements for information distribution, posting warning signs at site, dust containment, and waste handling. However, those contractors are not exempt from the RRP Rule requirements for cleaning, cleaning verification, and recordkeeping requirements.

Post-disaster exemptions apply only to the extent necessary to respond to the emergency conditions. Once the portion of the renovation work that addresses the source of the emergency is completed, the remaining activities are subject to all the requirements of the RRP Rule. Additionally, if the contractor is unable to comply with all the requirements of the RRP Rule because of emergency circumstances, the contractor must document the nature of the emergency and the provisions of the RRP Rule that were not followed.

Contractors performing such work should take care to comply with the EPA’s RRP Rule and applicable exceptions even under emergency circumstances to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of occupants and to avoid violations and subsequent fines for non-compliance.