Monday, January 19, 2015

Mold Legislation Threatens Restoration/Remediation Industries

The New Year wasn't very old before the restoration/mold industry was beset with concerns regarding new regulations and legislation.  The first, Nassau County in New York State started requiring licensing for companies and owners of those companies who are environmental hazard remediation providers, this legislation Local Law No. 13-2014 was voted on by the County Legislature on September 22, 2014 and signed by County Executive Ed Mangano on September 25, 2014 (Thank you Mark Drozdov for the info).  The second item, on December 30 New York State's "Licensing of Mold Inspection, Assessment andRemediation Specialists and Minimum Work Standards" legislation was presented to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign.  The Governor has until January 29 to either sign it, or veto it or he can let it expire (called a pocket veto) (Thank you Chris Alonge for the info.).
 
Water damage/Mold growth in a Basement Apartment
There is a growing group of industry individuals who feel that Governor Cuomo should veto the NYS legislation.  Many feel it is poorly written and have major issues with it.  Some examples include the definition of mold (to narrow a definition), NYS Department of Labor is charged with writing rules and regulations for overseeing the practices of assessment & remediation (it should be either the NYS Department of Health or NYS Department of Environmental Conservation), and does not mention or exempt a minimum quantity.  In our opinion, the law does use existing infrastructure to create the rules and regulations, recognizes conflict of interest issues, and leaves the details of the procedures up to the agencies who already have experience handling the restoration/remediation industry and provides some minimum procedures.  The law puts the responsibility for creating the details to NYS Department of Health and the NYS Department of Labor.  Both agencies already regulate the asbestos industry and have the experience to create, write, and enforce the potential rules and regulations to handle this industry.  Our feeling this legislation is better than the Nassau County legislation, and our concern is that we might get one like the Nassau County law.

Nassau's Local Law is meant to address problems that happened after Super Storm Sandy
Nassau County Local Law No. 13-2014 requires "Licensing of Environmental Hazard Remediation Providers" or in another words environmental contractors.  However, environmental contractors are defined "any person who or legal entity that, contracts with an owner or an owner's agent to inspect a suspected environmental hazard or to implement any measure or measures that result in the remediation of an environmental hazard in a building."  This definition means both consultants and contractors have to be licensed.  Even more amazing is the definition of Environmental hazard.  "Environmental hazard(s) means any condition that constitutes an indoor air quality violation as defined by any United States statue or regulation, any New York State Law or regulation, any local law or any regulation promulgated by the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, and which hazard was caused by fire, flood, storm, chemical spills, dust, sewage, mold, pathogens or other biological contaminants and not caused by the presence of asbestos or lead."  There are so many statements in this definitions that we're not totally sure what is or isn't covered.  

The Local Law 13-2014 requires two licenses, environmental contractors have to get the Environmental Hazard Remediation Provider (EHRP) License ($1,000 for a two year license, renewal fee is $500 every two years) and the Environmental Hazard Remediation Technician (EHRT) License ($100 for two year license, every two years) shall be issued to an EHRP or their principal(s) and any person employed by, seeking employment by or under contract to a EHRP for the purpose of environmental hazard assessment and environmental hazard remediation.  It does allow an EHRT to supervise up to 10 unlicensed employees or contractors performing a remediation or remediations.  To get the EHRT license you must have taken and be current/in effect Certifications:
  • OSHA Safety Standards for Construction or General Industry - minimum 10 hours
  • NYS Asbestos Handler - minimum 32 hours
  • EPA Lead Worker - minimum 16 hours.  Lead RRP is NOT sufficient
  • Hazardous Waste Operations (HAZWOPER) - minimum 40 hours
  • Microbial Remediation - minimum 24 hours
  • Water damage restoration - minimum 20 hours or Institute of Inspection, Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC) WRT Certification
  • Fire damage restoration - minimum 16 hours or IICRC FSRT Certification
  • PCB Awareness - minimum 4 hours
  • Bloodborne pathogens - minimum 4 hours
  • Infection control risk assessment - minimum 4 hours
  • Proof of a valid lead and asbestos abatement licenses.
The above list consists of 170 hours of training.  It is interesting to note to get an asbestos abatement license you need to take an NYS asbestos supervisor - minimum 40 hours and to get the EPA Lead Remediation License you must be an EPA lead supervisor - minimum 32 hours.  Nowhere in this list of topics is a supervisor course, considering that the EHRT will be allowed to supervise up to 10 unlicensed employees/contractors that seems very lacking.  In addition, there is no assessment class in this list.  Most of us in the industry would agree that this list should be the minimum training for the remediation workers in the restoration/remediation industry.  This list should not be the training requirements for the principals/supervising employees of an EHRP.  In our opinion, EHRP principals/supervising employees should have a minimum certification from American Council for Accredited Certifications, American Board of Industrial Hygiene, Board of Certified Safety Professionals, or another national, non-profit certifying body which:  
In addition, the Local Law does not address the conflict of interest issues that arise from these types of projects.  In our opinion, the local law should have this language to address conflicts of interest:
  • Individuals or legal entities shall not conduct environmental assessments for a period of one year on projects for which they have conducted environmental remediation services.
  • Individuals or legal entities shall not conduct environmental remediations for a period of one year on projects for which they have conducted environmental assessments.
Both laws have their issues unfortunately the worst of the two laws is currently in effect and it needs drastic changes and should be repealed or amended.  

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