Two recent regulatory developments related to asbestos and lead paint remediation signal a change in federal regulation and enforcement, which may significantly impact businesses that operate in those spheres.
First, following a tip-off from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued more than $1.2 million in penalties to AMD Industries Inc. in Cicero, Ill. for 19 alleged willful and eight serious violations resulting from removal of asbestos insulating materials from its boilers, heating units and connected piping. OSHA alleges that the company required five workers to remove asbestos containing materials without training in asbestos remediation and without proper personal protective equipment. Such activity by OSHA is a signal that the federal government will actively enforce safety requirements for asbestos remediation activities. A copy of the citation is available here. OSHA’s investigation falls under the requirements of its “Severe Violators Enforcement Program.” Initiated in the spring of 2010, the program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
Next, on July 15, EPA issued its long-awaited revision to the Bush-era lead renovation, repair and painting rule. In a surprise move, EPA dropped the proposed testing and clearance requirements that were contained in the proposed rule, and retained the original rule provision requiring only a visual inspection of the work area to clear it for lead paint residue. The final rule also made some “minor changes” to requirements for training programs; minimum enforcement provisions for state programs; and training and certification requirements for renovators.