A Pennsylvania contractor pled guilty in May for failing to follow work procedures dictated by the federal Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule during window replacement work in 2017.

Charles H. Bitner Jr., the president and owner of Bitner Brothers Construction, could face up to a $200,000 fine and five years’ probation when he is sentenced in September in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

DWM reached out to Bitner Construction for comment, but as of press time had not gotten a response.

According to court documents, Bitner’s company was contracted in July 2016 to remove 10 old windows at a six-unit apartment complex in Harrisburg, Pa. When work began in February 2017, employees discovered that the replacement windows were too big for the existing openings, so they needed to cut through painted walls in two apartments to complete the job.

The court documents claim that the company did not do any lead paint testing prior to beginning the work. Additionally, Bitner, a certified lead paint renovator, was not present when the work began, and the complaint says that he did not provide any training to his uncertified workers on safe work practices.

Bitner’s workers cut through the apartment’s painted walls without setting up a containment system equipped with a HEPA vacuum to reduce exposure to lead hazards as required by the RRP rule. The court documents say the renovations were conducted while occupants were present, including four children.

In May 2017, investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency tested paint chip samples from inside the two apartments where the renovations took place. They showed the presence of lead.

Lead paint was banned in 1978, but EPA estimates that it’s still present in more than 30 million homes in the U.S. Infants, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems.

The RRP rule requires any renovation work — and all door and window replacements — that disturbs more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow work practices to protect residents from exposure to lead.

 

 

 

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