Enforcement of WI’s Lead Safe Renovator Rule

When we go out and teach the Lead Safe Renovator class throughout Wisconsin, some of the most frequent questions we get are about enforcement—who does it, how many inspectors are there, how much are the fines, how are the authorities finding out about non-compliant job sites? So, let’s get to work answering all those questions and more!

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services is responsible for enforcement and administration of the Lead Safe Renovator rule for remodeling pre-78 homes and child-occupied facilities.

WI Department of Health Services

The only Lead Safe Renovator authority in the state of Wisconsin you need to worry about is the Department of Health Services (DHS). That department is the be all and end all of renovating (or abating) lead (and asbestos) in Wisconsin. It promulgates regulations, administers certifications, collects fees, inspects job sites, levies fines, etc. If you’re doing lead-safe work in Wisconsin, you’d be well served in getting to know the staff in the Lead & Asbestos unit—they’re good people to work with.

In my view, enforcement of the Lead Safe Renovator rule has been incremental. Back in 2010 DHS was focusing on getting remodelers to go through the 8-hour Lead Safe Renovator-Initial class and then getting companies certified. Well, time has passed and today DHS is enforcing much more than just certifications.

Enforcement Data

Today DHS is enforcing the full spectrum of the Lead Safe Renovator rule. According to department records, in 2013 DHS took enforcement actions against contractors and property managers for:

  • certification (for both individuals and companies)
  • pre-renovation education (the act of handing over “Renovate Right“)
  • to setting up containment and containing all dust and debris
  • following the prohibited practices
  • controlling the work area (by using warning signs and perimeter markings)
  • cleaning (for exterior jobs this means cleaning every day).

Here are some other facts and figures of notes: Currently, the minimum fine for a single Lead Safe Renovator violation is $100 and the maximum amount is $1,000. In 2013, according to a DHS presentation on the topic, it conducted 900 inspections on Lead Safe Renovator job sites. I do not know how many of those inspections resulted in fines; however, I do know that the average fine totaled $1,300.

2 Big Fish

The final tally on Lead Safe Renovator fines from DHS does not rival anything levied by the EPA as of late (see:  “Corporate-wide Settlement with Lowe’s Protects Public from Lead Pollution During Home Renovations“). However, there were two companies in 2013 fined far in excess of $1,300.

The first company, a window installation firm, was fined a total of $14,104 for using uncertified subcontractors on multiple projects. The second incidence involved a company that conducted 33 renovation projects on pre-78 housing or child-occupied facilities after its certification was revoked; this firm was fined $7,425.

Going Forward

So what’s the takeaway? It’s obvious that Lead Safe Renovator enforcement is happening. DHS is receiving complaints related to the Lead Safe Renovator rule—from homeowners and professional contractors—and acting on them.

If you’re not certified—get certified. Sign up for the initial 8-hour Lead Safe Renovator class today, or contact us about holding a class in your area. And if you are certified, keep in mind you’re required to take 4-hour refresher education every 4 years, and we can assist you with that, as well. Last, on this topic I always recommend reaching out to DHS with specific enforcement or compliance issues. The folks who work in that department are truly helpful, and they’re very responsive.

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