This letter to the editor was written by Paul Sullivan, chair of NAHB Remodelers
In Zachary Rose’s June 23 opinion piece, Why Online RRP Training Is a Bad Idea, he failed to mention a critical point regarding [the Environmental Protection Agency's] proposal to remove the hands-on training component of the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule's refresher course which would allow the opportunity for distance learning. Hands-on training would still be required to obtain the initial certification, a distinction that was omitted by Rose, who is a for-profit RRP training provider.
Professional education including certification under the EPA's RRP Rule helps keep families safe from lead exposure during home improvement jobs. In 2015, approximately 500,000 remodelers and contractors who obtained certification at the time that the RRP program began in 2010 must be re-certified by the EPA to continue to work safely in homes that may contain hazardous lead paint.
In order to get EPA Lead-Safe certified, remodelers and their employees would often travel hundreds of miles or even out of state at great cost to complete the classroom portion of the certification training as required by law. This classroom training remains invaluable to understanding the EPA RRP rule, and coupled with the online portion of the training program, new contractors who enter the recovering remodeling market today are still obtaining Lead-Safe certified renovator status to legally work on homes built before 1978.
NAHB [the National Association of Home Builders] applauds EPA’s initiative as an example of solid public policy that achieves the objectives of the RRP rule, which is a fully trained and Lead-Safe certified workforce. Lead-Safe certified renovators when required to take the refresher course will already possess a minimum of five years of on-the-job hands-on work experience in applying the RRP rule’s lead-safe work practices based on their initial training, which did include and still includes a hands-on training requirement.
Considering that EPA rules limit Lead-Safe certified renovator refresher classes to about 25 students per class, online classes are the most effective way to ensure 500,000 remodelers and contractors are re-certified before their five-year EPA certification lapses.
As a recent NAHB survey showed, professional education distinguishes professional remodelers from fly-by-night contractors. Around 80 percent of consumers said that contractors with a specialized, professional designation provide better quality work and craftsmanship, and are more professional and credible.
The rise in popularity of distance learning for both college students and professionals is undeniable in recent years. Online training gives workers the opportunity to learn and master new topics, as well as recap training, regardless of their ability to travel. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration already administers a popular 30-hour workplace safety and health course online.
Safety training and refresher courses can be successfully delivered online–providing valuable education to a larger audience of professionals who can then apply those skills to homes nationwide.
Read more about RRP and lead-safe practices.