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Environmental Health

Childhood Lead Prevention Program: Contractor Information

  1. What do contractors need to know about lead-safe work practice requirements?
    1. Contractors must attain USEPA Lead-Safe Certification.
      Any contractor, including renovators, electricians, HVAC specialists, plumbers, painters and maintenance staff, who disrupts more than six square feet of lead paint in pre-1978 homes, schools, day care centers and other places where children spend time must be USEPA Lead-Safe Certified.
      This USEPA booklet, "EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right (pdf)", describes the Federal Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and how to comply. Guía de cumplimiento destinada a entidades pequeñas para Un manual para contratistas, administradores de viviendas renovar correctament (pdf)
    2. There is a presumption of lead-based paint for any pre-1979 San Francisco building or structure.
      San Francisco Building and Health Codes presume that any building built before 1979 has lead-based paint. Owners may hire State-certified lead inspector/assessors to refute this presumption on specific surfaces. Approximately 90% of San Francisco's housing units were built before 1979.
    3. San Francisco Building Code requires lead-safe work practices when disturbing paint on any pre-1979 San Francisco building or structure
      SF Building Code requires lead-safe work practices for any paint-disturbing repair, remodeling, or renovation work on on the exterior of a pre-1979 building or structure and in the interior of a pre-1979 residential rental property or one used for child care. If you are a painter, renovator, or any other worker who may disturb lead-based paint in their work, you must use lead-safe work practices on building exteriors and interiors to protect yourself and others from exposure to lead.
      Please review the guide for work that disturbs lead-based paint.

      You must comply with these key requirements for lead-safe work practices:

      • Notify residential occupants at least 3 days before work begins
      • Provide specific signage warning of the work in progress
      • Set up the work area to provide containment and prevent migration of all generated paint dust and debris
      • Minimize dust-creating work practices
      • Clean up carefully and completely
      • Do not use prohibited work practices to disturb or remove paint

      It is prohibited to use the following methods in San Francisco to disturb or remove paint:

      • Scraping, sanding, grinding, abrasive blasting or sand-blasting without containment or a HEPA local vacuum exhaust tool.
      • Hydroblasting or high-pressure wash without containment and barrier systems.
      • Open flame burning or torching, including propane-fueled heat grids.
      • Heat guns operating above 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
      The Department of Building Inspection-Housing Inspection Services- responds to complaints and issues violations to property owners and contractors for work practices not complying with the code.


  2. How can contractors get trained and certified in lead-safe work practices?
    1. Submit an application and fee to EPA to become Lead-Safe Certified.
      To become a Certified Renovator, complete a renovator training course accredited by EPA or an EPA authorized program which will teach you how to work lead safe.
      State law requires further certification for those doing work designed to reduce or eliminate lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, or lead-contaminated soil in or on residential or public buildings in California where controls are anticipated to last 20 years or more. Such work requires employees to be either CDPH Lead-Related Construction-certified Lead Supervisors or Workers. Contact the CDPH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch at 1-800-597-LEAD for further information.


  3. What must contractors do at the job site?
  4. Assign a Certified Renovator to each renovation job the firm performs. The certified renovator must perform or direct certain key tasks during the renovation and be present on-site during those key tasks, including:

    • Post signs before the job
    • Ensure the work area is contained
    • Make sure that other workers follow lead-safe work practices
    • Prepare and maintain records. (See EPA's sample recordkeeping checklist) (pdf)
    • Verify cleaning after the job is finished.


  5. What must contractors communicate to customers and affected tenants?
    1. Contractors must provide their customers proof that they are a USEPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovation Firm. Contractors must also provide identification and proof of certification for the assigned Certified Renovator on the renovation job.
    2. The firm must notify the homeowner or tenants about lead hazards and the requirements of the USEPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The USEPA's Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (in English and en Espanol) (pdf) booklet may be used to provide customers and affected tenants general information about legal requirements for safe lead practices during renovation activities.
    3. The firm must document compliance with the requirements of the federal lead-based paint renovation, repair, and painting rule.