In the words of the famous line from the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the room was full of “top men” (and top women). They milled about nervously, while the lead instructor and assistant instructors went through their preparations. While not cowed by the possibility, everyone anxiously watched for the arrival of the auditor for the Department of Labor. So began the first day of classes offered by the first-ever mold training provider approved by the State of New York for contractor licensing.
MOLD REGULATIONS FORCE CONTRACTORS TO RESPOND
As of Jan. 1, 2016, the long-anticipated mold remediation licensing act took effect in New York. For the first time, contractors, assessors, supervisors, and workers must be licensed in New York to perform activities that they have been conducting for years. Failure to obtain a license can now subject a company or person doing mold remediation to fines of $2,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for any subsequent unlicensed mold activity.
LICENSED ASSESSORS PLAY A KEY ROLE IN DESIGNING WORK PLANS
In addition to the threat of penalties, the new law provides some clarity in regards to mold inspections (known as assessments) and the actual work of remediation (known as abatement).
The inspector/assessor is required to produce a mold remediation plan specific to each project, which lays out details for the building owner that allows a fair solicitation of bids. An inspector can no longer perform a visual inspection, take some samples, and tell the owner of a residence or commercial building that they have a problem and need remediation. Instead, the assessment report must include eight specific pieces of information to assist with the actual remediation:
- Rooms or areas where the work will be performed.
- Estimated quantities of materials to be removed or cleaned in each area.
- Methods of remediation specific to each area with mold.
- The minimum personal protective equipment to be used by the remediation contractor and workers.
- Clearance procedures and comparison criteria for each remediation area.
- Recommendations for notification of occupants, unless the total building will be unoccupied during remediation.
- An estimate of cost and timeframe for project completion.
The new law in New York puts a heavy burden of documentation on the remediation contractor and the assessor.
8. An explanation of the moisture sources causing the mold and recommendation for the type of contractor who is necessary for fixing the intrusion.
This mold remediation plan must be provided to the building owner/manager before any remediation work can begin.
The new law has a special requirement for chemical use. Antimicrobial products can only be specified if they are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The law specifically warns the assessor to consider possible occupant sensitivities to chemicals when recommending their use. This emphasis on careful chemical product selection goes hand in hand with growing medical evidence that suggests a strong connection for people with mold sensitivities to a cross-sensitivity to chemicals.
MOLD REMEDIATION WORK STANDARDS
The new law in New York puts a heavy burden of documentation on the remediation contractor and the assessor. As noted previously, the assessor has to produce a remediation plan with a great level of detail. The contractor who is actually conducting the mold work must take that remediation plan and develop a mold remediation work plan. This work plan must provide the building owner with step-by-step instructions or operating procedures for the project that builds on the assessor’s instructions. One of those procedures is to post warning signs at all accessible entrances to the remediation area.
THIRD-PARTY VERIFICATION OF PROJECT EFFECTIVENESS
A licensed mold assessor is required to return to the scene to evaluate the work and decide if the remediation plan has been fulfilled. The project requires a stringent visual inspection and any sampling called out by the remediation plan. Projects that do not meet the clearance criteria described in the remediation plan are treated in one of three ways:
- A second assessment is initiated to determine if the additional source material is still present.
- A second attempt at remediation is established, with closer attention paid to the details of the remediation plan.
- The underlying cause of the mold is corrected prior to more abatement work being done.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?
The overall goal of the New York law is to protect consumers from fraudulent or ineffective mold remediation activities. To that end, requiring contractors to jump through multiple hoops to have their companies and individuals licensed should ultimately result in more pro- professional mold remediation projects.
However, the implementation of new rules often follows a well-known physics theorem that an action results in an equal and opposite reaction. It remains to be seen
whether the reaction of consumers, assessors, and mold remediation contractors to the New York State law will reach its intended goal of protecting those who need mold remediation service.