Does Restoring the Opt Out Make Sense?

Restoration of the opt-out provision to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule is a hot topic burning up the blogs right now. Both sides of this issue have valid points to consider. Before we make rash decisions about which side to take, we need to look at the entire picture.

Isn’t it a bit odd that just a few months before an election some politician comes out of the woodwork and puts forth this bill? Where was this senator a year ago? How much research and thought went into addressing the bigger picture? Are we being used again by politicians tapping our emotions and not our intelligence for votes? Do you really feel the opt out is all that stands between you and more work?


Here are a few questions/comments I believe this bill ignores:

1. Regardless of whether the opt-out provision comes back, we need to talk to the employees who are actually doing the work in these homes. How do they feel about their health risks? Will they have a voice without retaliation? Will OSHA create a clause that says “You must protect your workers’ health unless the customer gave you permission to work unprotected?” My bet is OSHA will stand firm on 1926.62 (Lead in Construction). In fact, if you have employees, OSHA’s requirements trump EPA’s.

2. If the opt out makes sense to restore, let’s include a statement to say the homeowner releases his or her civil right to sue the contractor should anything go wrong. The opt-out provision only releases the contractor from the EPA regulation. It does not address the civil avenue a homeowner can take.

3. How about signing a waiver that says my tax dollars won’t be used to pay for you, your family, your workers or your clients who might get sick because of the work you perform?

4. If any of you perform HUD work, do you really believe HUD will back down from its stringent standards? Anything that can improve our economy is worth considering. However, I am not sure restoring the opt-out provision is the answer everyone has been looking for. Can’t we come up with a better solution than S. 2148?

I believe the current RRP law (without the opt out) can create marketing and positioning opportunities to those who see it this way and, in the process, keep everyone safe. For those who see it differently, RRP obviously is a never-ending source of complaints, which has divided our industry at a time when we need to support each other more than ever.

Peter Lawton is president of leadSMART Training Solutions Inc., South Berwick, Maine