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Finding Asbestos During Mold Remediation

 

Mold Remediation Complicated By Multiple Contaminants.

What Should A Mold Remediation Contractor Do When They Find Asbestos and/or Lead?

Many Regulations Still Apply to Mold Remediation Professionals

One of the worst aspects of having an entire industry operate under an ever evolving standard of care is that individuals working in the industry often forget that a large group of secondary regulations apply to mold remediation work. Contractors have responsibilities under OSHA and EPA regulations to develop and enforce safety programs related to personal protective equipment, respirators, chemicals, waste disposal, electrical equipment, fall protection, and a host of others. Those federal requirements are often supplemented by state and local rules, which also carry the force of law. Two areas where both mold remediation consultants and contractors seem to frequently get in trouble involve missing the regulatory requirements for dealing with asbestos and lead paint.

 

The hazards of exposure to asbestos fibers and lead dust have been well known for decades. At both the federal and state levels, rules dictating specific methods for controlling the dangers to both workers and building occupants are in force. These rules include detailed procedures for conducting inspections and completing work that may disturb the building materials that contain lead or asbestos. Violation of these rules, either intentionally or unknowingly, can result in contamination of an entire structure, as well as heavy regulatory fines. In the case of asbestos, bad work by an inspector or contractor can even lead to citations and fines against the building owner. Such an occurrence often triggers legal action by the client against their own vendor for working outside the law, even though the mold remediation contractor was represented as being a trained professional.

 

Ignorance of these regulations is no excuse. Nor will the inspector or contractor have an easy go of it if they skip critical steps (such as testing suspect materials or treating certain materials as hazardous) because an insurance adjuster does not consider it a justified cost. Such conversations are analogous to an insurance representative telling a contractor that they do not need to follow the current version of the national electrical code or the plumbing code. Anyone who takes such bad advice almost deserves the trouble they get into, except in cases like these the “trouble” may mean that people’s health has been compromised.

 

Understanding the Different Approaches of OSHA and the EPA

Mold remediation professionals should be aware that the regulatory environment has changed drastically over the last few years. Gone are the days when contractors would, after being found to be in violation of parts of a rule, get off with a warning or a citation labeled “other than serious”, which usually meant that no penalty was assessed. Now, even paperwork violations that have no direct bearing on the safety of individuals or the environment result in significant fines. With the implementation of their Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rules five years ago, the EPA has taken to a new level their enforcement against violators who disturb lead-containing paint. In addition to citations and fines, the Agency is publicly shaming individuals and organizations even for paperwork violations by publicizing the citations.

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