Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Virginia Board for Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors
Virginia Asbestos Licensing Regulations [18 VAC 15 ‑ 20]
|Action||Amendment to Asbestos Licensing Regulations|
|Comment Period||Ends 6/27/2008|
Commenter: Joseph W. Crockett
Proposed Changes to Asbestos Regulations
Proposed Changes to Asbestos Regulations
First, I should point out that I am a previous member of the Asbestos, Lead and Home Inspectors Board. My comment relates to the proposed changes to the text of asbestos contractor responsibilities regarding the use of asbestos project monitors on asbestos jobs. The clarification of when asbestos contractors must notify building owners of the project monitor requirement is a topic that needs more work than is included in the two proposed changes.
The entire sub-section relating to the requirement for notification by contractors to owners (of the need for a project monitor) is a regulation that is confusing, unneeded and unenforceable. The net effect of this regulation, as it now stands, and will stand after the proposed changes, is that it confuses building owners, discourages the use of honest contractors that tell owners of the project monitor requirement, and forces additional costs on already distressed owners. Aside from these problems, the regulation does not consider the general shortage of project monitors, nor does it consider that some monitoring firms decline residential or other specific types of work. While I am familiar with the background of the regulation and the reference in the administrative code, I find that something that exceeds the federal requirements to the level that this regulation does, is beyond the norm in Virginia and needs to be eliminated.
Let me first clarify that my employer, Waco, Inc. works with virtually every active project monitoring firm in the state. We both work with and for these firms as well as hire them to protect our interests. If the board were to issue a regulation that says every owner will hire an asbestos project monitor, on every asbestos job, and the board will enforce such a regulation on the owner, we would be fine with that. We regularly work with owners that have staff monitors or contract monitors for every one of their jobs. We know what is expected and have no problem with this arrangement. We also know that our competitors are bidding to the same inspection standards.
Where we run into difficulty is when the board tries to make the asbestos contractor into the enforcement agent of the board, to force an owner hire an unwanted, and possibly unnecessary, project monitor. When we are required to notify the owner that a licensed project monitor is required, and obtain and acknowledgement that they have been so notified, we have been made to “enforce” (or force) a regulation on an owner that the Board cannot itself enforce. I mentioned that many owners are already overburdened by the cost of asbestos removal. Consider the home seller that has just been told by the buyer that the buyer’s home inspector reports the house is full of asbestos insulation and the seller must remove the material. The seller has just been forced to, in effect, lower his return by the cost of the asbestos job. He gets prices from two asbestos contractors for the work. One says he must hire a monitor, at $400.00 per day, while the other contractor does not furnish the notice. I can tell you that the work will get done prior to the closing, and there will be no monitor on that job. The other alternative is for me to tell my customer that I have to send this letter to you, you have to acknowledge receipt of the letter, and then you don’t have to hire the monitor.
As I understand, the board has no authority over a non-regulant, and the owner is not board-regulated. As mentioned previously, this regulation is unenforceable on the party that is responsible. Instead the board will discipline the contractor that doesn’t pass along an unenforceable requirement.
As an alternative to the existing regulation, I believe the project monitors should be responsible for enforcing this regulation. Have them blanket the market with threats that if owners don’t hire them (the monitors), the owner will not be in compliance with the regulations. Let the monitors strong-arm the owners. After all, they are the ones that benefit from this regulation. Let them be the bad guys to the owners. Take this responsibility off the asbestos contractors. In reality, I don’t think that you will get much support from the project monitors for this.
The point of all of this is that the original regulation was a bad regulation and should never have been put into effect. It is way beyond federal requirements, imposes often unnecessary costs on overburdened owners, forces contractors to enforce unenforceable regulations, and encourages contractors not to comply. The proposed changes make trivial changes that really don’t matter. Fix the real problem.