Student Painters Settle Lead Case


College Works Painting has agreed to pay a $39,532 civil penalty for alleged violations of the federal renovation rule addressing possible lead-paint hazards, authorities have announced.

The Environmental Protection Agency alleges that the Irvine, CA-based painting company (d.b.a. Student Works Painting Inc.) violated the EPA’s Repair, Renovation and Painting (RRP) rule while renovating a  property in Boise, ID.

This is not the first time College Works Painting has failed to comply with federal lead-safe rules. In 2011, the company paid a $32,508 penalty for other lead-safe violations, according to the EPA.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case Tuesday (Nov. 18).

Inspection Spurs Penalty

A local tip spurred the latest inspection at a Boise residential property built before 1978.

There, EPA inspectors found Student Works Painting failed to follow lead-safe work practices and establish and maintain adequate records for renovation activities in violation of the RRP rule, according to the case documents.

Specifically, the company did not post signs warning occupants to remain outside the work area, EPA alleged. The company also did not cover the ground with plastic sheeting or other material to collect failing paint debris during the renovation, EPA said.

Vertical containment or equivalent extra precautions in containing the work area were not installed, EPA noted.

EPA further alleged that the company did not provide documentation to demonstrate that the non-certified workers working on the renovation project received on-the-job training from a certified renovator.

A Serious Threat

“If repairs or remodeling are done carelessly in older homes, it could result in lead contamination, which in turn could pose a serious health hazard to young children,” said Kate Kelly, director of EPA’s office of Air, Waste & Toxics in Seattle.

“Research has shown that as many as one million children in America are needlessly exposed to lead, resulting in elevated blood lead levels, which have been shown to harm both physical and mental development. Our lead-based paint regulations help safeguard children from this unnecessary exposure risk.”


EPA says exposure to lead can have devastating effects on children, including hearing damage, behavior issues and learning disabilities.

EPA's lead-based paint regulations require that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978:

  • Have their firm certified by EPA (or an EPA authorized state);
  • Use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers; and
  • Follow lead-safe work practices.

Lead-based paint can be found on walls, ceilings, woodwork, windows, or even floors.

When lead-based paint on these surfaces is chipped, sanded, or scraped, it breaks into tiny, barely visible pieces that children can swallow or inhale. Even small repair and renovation jobs, including repainting projects, can create enough lead dust and chips to harm children.

About College Works

College Works Painting, founded in 1993, operates in over 35 states and paints more than 10,000 homes annually, according to its website.

The company hires more than 2,000 college students every year for internship programs.

The programs are designed to teach highly ambitious undergraduate students how to manage their own painting businesses.


Tagged categories: Contractors; EPA; Health and safety; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Maintenance + Renovation; Maintenance coating work; North America; Painting Contractors; Renovation

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