Time Saving Techniques For Complying With EPA’S Remodeling Lead Safe Work Practices Mandate

If remodeling contractors aren’t already aware, the game has changed due to a new federal mandate. Contractors remodeling homes pre 1978 must have lead safe training by April 22nd 2010 and comply with the regulation. These lead safe work practices can be a daunting and time consuming task for inexperienced remodeling contractor. The extra man hours can add up on a given project and consume profits. This article attempts to give some insiders “tricks of the trade” from a former lead abatement contractor to help reduce man hours and keep material costs down while complying with the new mandate.

Plastic sheeting is your friend. Known as “poly” to abatement contractors, it covers your work area and makes for quick clean-up. Always purchase clear poly. As suggested by the EPA standards, cover the floor at least 6 feet out and construct walls with 4 or 6 mil. In addition, place a sizeable scrap of the heavier poly in the middle of the work area before covering the floor. This scrap will come in handy during tear down.

The author has found 12′ widths are most useful. This covers nearly any ceiling height, and accommodates traditional floor plans for most rooms so there’s less splicing.

Be sure to have two kinds on hand. Painter’s plastic can be used to cover shelves and articles around the room. It’s far less expensive and comes in handy for just covering the odds and ends.

Cut a runner from containment to the dumpster before work begins. Make it wide enough to carry supplies and materials. During rainy weather, make sure there is a mat of some kind to wipe workers feet before reentering the house. Poly is very slippery when wet.

Demo materials are often sharp and heavy. This is a problem when bagging the debris as the sharp edges poke holes in the bag and a trail of dust marks your path to the dumpster. A solution and time saver is to have plenty of garbage cans on hand. The trick is to fill the garbage can with the liner inside containment. When full or heavy enough, gooseneck it and leave in the container. The container can then be hauled to the dumpster and disposed of.

When dealing with heavy dense debris, it helps to have a container with wheels, as dragging a heavy garbage can will eventually wear holes in the poly runner. As demo proceeds, the bags should be staged at the doorway within easy reach. The bags or garbage cans should be grabbed from outside containment to save time going in and out of the doorway. Also, have one worker in containment stage the bags by the door and one worker outside that can reach in and grab them.

For a plaster tear out, an old piece of paneling can help workers have a place for the plaster to “land”. It’s also useful to scoop up the debris and bag. The paneling should be placed finished side up so there is a sealed side to vacuum up or wipe down. Any wood product is fine as long as it’s painted or sealed. Open wood is one of the most difficult to clean for lead dust, as the open pores and grain of the natural fiber harbor and lock in the dust. 5 gal buckets can be used for dumping the old broken plaster. Just line them with 6mil small kitchen size bags and carry the bucket to the dumpster.

When work is done, take the walls down first and collapse them gently on the floor poly. Then simply roll up the walls and the floor on the scrap you first laid down to dispose. This scrap catches the inevitable debris that escape from the roll when fitting it in the garbage bag and saves the time of vacuuming. The scrap can now be rolled up and disposed of also. After a contractor gets a few jobs under their belt, set up and tear down should go quickly.

The new EPA standard expects the remodeling contractor to isolate the work area, utilizing temporary poly walls. This is a standard in the abatement industry, and can be done quickly and efficiently no matter what the size or shape of the project.

The method of affixing the containment walls must first be addressed. Many contractors often tape the poly to the ceiling, forming a perimeter around the work area. This is acceptable and common, but has several issues. First and foremost it is very time consuming, also it can be very difficult to attach the tape to a textured ceiling or uneven surface. Due to the weight of the poly, the tape can fail and bring the wall down. The work must then be halted and time taken to reattach it. Finally, upon removal, the tape can peel and destroy the surface it was stuck to. These issues can be costly and add many man hours to a simple project.

Consider extendable poles. These poles are reusable, reducing labor and issues associated with using tape. Often marketed as cargo bars for pickup trucks, these ratcheting poles extend and clamp the poly to the ceiling no matter what the height or surface. The poles also negate the problems of disturbing the wall and tape destroying the surface upon removal. Although prices differ throughout the region, extendable ratcheting poles can be purchased inexpensively.

Plan the containment area by ratcheting the poles in place where the wall will be. Give yourself plenty of room to work, and plan an area by the containment entrance to stage the bagged debris. Once the poles are where you want them, roll out the poly and wrap it around the poles, defining the perimeter and determining the length. Give yourself a little extra, it’s no fun trying to stretch poly to the wall. Best refrigerant recovery machine

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