Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time for "Spring Cleaning" in Construction

When the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule came into effect, there was a flurry of activity as contractors became concerned about how it would affect their businesses.  They were facing the additional costs of certification and compliance and started thinking about lead poisoning in a way that they never had before.

There was always a group of contractors who thought that it was all smoke and that it was not worth the effort.  They never got trained or certified, and were/are able to underbid their competitors for renovation jobs.

As months passed, I heard the buzz of angry contractors who made the effort to do it right and follow the law.  Many felt that it was a joke.  Registration in certification classes waned. At the same time, the economy has improved, and contractors are getting back to business. They don't have as much time to learn the nuances of OSHA or deal with paperwork.

In the last two months, however, stories have started cropping up around the country about fines.  All of a sudden, contractors and construction companies are being visited by the EPA, OSHA and the Department of Labor to see if they are following the RRP Rule, OSHA safety practices and maintaining proper worker's compensation insurance.  The government may start fining businesses for the classification of employees as independent contractors. Compliance is becoming more important.

So, as you prepare for warmer weather, it is time to do some internal "spring cleaning."  Make sure that your insurance coverage is up to date and as comprehensive as it should be.  Follow the laws and maintain proper documentation.  Consider having your contracts reviewed to make sure they are in compliance with your states' laws and that they adequately protect you.  As they say, "better safe than sorry."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Worker's Compensation Information Available Online At the Massachusetts Department of Labor Website

Mark Paskell first posted this at his blog, 
http://www.thecontractorcoachingpartnership.com/Blog-Contractor-Coaching--Construction-Business-Coach-EPA-RRP-Lead-Rule/, but I think it is so important that I wanted to post here as well.  Make sure all of your subcontractors have worker's compensation policies if they have employees.  If not, you may be held accountable if someone gets injured on the job.  Bravo to the government of MA for making this information available to the public.

Here is a brief excerpt from the Massachusetts Department of Labor website;                                      State of Massachusetts

Patrick - Murray Administration Launches Free Web-Based Tool

Will help Public Verify if Businesses have Workers Compensation Insurance Policy

Boston, MA - The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) today announced the launch of the Massachusetts Online Proof of Coverage Application (POC), a free web-based tool that will assist the public in verifying whether a particular business has a current workers’ compensation insurance policy.  
While the POC application is not designed to detect fraud, it may also assist EOLWD’s Department of Industrial Accidents’ investigations in determining whether fraud exists.  
Employers are required by law in Massachusetts to carry workers compensation insurance to assist workers in the event that they are injured on the job. While the vast majority of Massachusetts businesses carry a policy, those who are not in compliance shift the burden onto those business that do. As a result, over $53 million has been paid out of the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund over the past 10 years to pay for injury claims of workers who were employed by businesses that were not in compliance. DIA works closely with businesses through payment plans and more aggressive enforcement measures to make sure they are compliant.

Monday, April 04, 2011

EPA Starts Assessing Fines for RRP Violations

From Mark Paskell's blog: 

The press release below came from the EPA.  It has been hard to persuade contractors that they need to become certified when it did not appear that the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule was being enforced.  Now, there have been two substantial fines publicized: one in Connecticut last month ($30,700) and the one listed below.  It is time to have your contracts reviewed, insert clauses to protect you under the new law, and have your insurance policy reviewed for lead coverage!

Kansas City, Kan., March 31, 2011) – Window World of St. Louis, Inc., has agreed to pay a $19,529 civil penalty to the United States to settle allegations that it failed to notify owners and occupants of at least 20 St. Louis area residential properties built before 1978 of lead-based paint risks prior to performing renovation work at those locations.
According to an administrative consent agreement filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan., the window replacement company, located in Maryland Heights, Mo., was legally required to provide owners and residents of the properties with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet before starting renovations at the properties.
Provision of the lead hazard information pamphlet to property owners and occupants is one requirement of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, which Congress passed in 1992 as an amendment of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The regulation is intended to protect owners and occupants of residential properties, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 from health risks associated with lead-based paint. Lead-based paint was banned for residential use in the United States in 1978. Most homes built before 1978 contain some amount of lead-based paint, and subsequent renovation activity of such properties can cause occupants to be exposed to dust, chips and debris that contain lead.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act requires renovators of such properties to obtain certified training, follow safe work practices, and take specific steps to make owners and occupants aware of health risks associated with lead exposure before renovation work occurs.
As part of its settlement with EPA, and in addition to paying the $19,529 civil penalty, Window World of St. Louis has agreed to perform a supplemental environmental project, through which it will spend an estimated $20,048 to replace a total of 73 old windows contaminated with lead paint at three group home facilities operated by the non-profit social services organization Youth in Need. Those facilities are located at 1420 N. 3rd Street, 516 Jefferson Street, and 529 Jefferson Street, in St. Charles, Mo.