The EM NARI Government Affairs Committee continues to eye legal and regulatory developments, including each of the following:
1. Important Changes Relating to Lead. Members should be aware of two significant changes relative to lead: First, the Massachusetts DPH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (“CLPPP”) has revised its regulations for lead paint abatement. Effective December 1, 2017 surfaces that would have had to have been stripped, replaced, or encapsulated under prior regulations will no long need to be treated. It is anticipated that the revised regulations will reduce costs of bringing a property into compliance by as much 50% depending on individual property conditions.
Second, the definition of “Lead Poisoned Child” has been changed from a child under 6 years of age with a blood lead level (“BLL”) equal to or greater than 25 micrograms per deciliter (“mcg/dl”) to a BLL of 10 mcg/dl. The change is prompted by long-aged research, and revises the previous standard that had been in place for over 30 years. Undoubtedly, the change will prompt substantial litigation as a result of a larger pool of affected children falling under the revised definition, increasing costs and risk to property owners and contractors.
All remodelers are encouraged to check the state’s database of Lead Inspected Homes at https://eohhs.ehs.state.ma.us/leadsafehomes/default.aspx prior to working on any house or apartment building built prior to 1978. If the property is listed as having a lead paint report and having “Hazards Found”, consult with a licensed lead inspector, preferably the one listed on the database, for guidance on how to approach the project without causing legal problems for both the remodeler and their client.
2. Tax Form and Deadline Changes. While Congress continues to debate more substantial changes to the tax rate and tax code that will absolutely impact members, the members are advised of two changes that are already in effect. First, 1099s must be sent out by January 31, 2018. 1099s must be received by any individuals or groups to whom members have paid $600 or more in any given year, and any law firms to whom members have made payment, regardless of the amount paid. To aid in issuing your 1099s, it is suggested that a W-9 form be obtained from all vendors and independent contractors. More detail on reporting requirements can be found at the following link: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/reporting-payments-to-independent-contractors. The IRS has also revised the W-9 form for 2017, a link to the revised form is found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
Also note that the IRS issued a new, longer I-9 form this past summer. Be sure you are using the newest version of the form. Also, it is recommended that you keep I-9 forms for employees indefinitely. The new form can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/system/files_force/files/form/i-9-paper-version.pdf?download=1
3. Silica. This summer, OSHA's new silica rule went into effect, which is designed to protect workers from exposure to breathable crystalline silica in the workplace. Exposure can come from construction activities like using masonry saws, grinders, drills, jackhammers and handheld powered chipping tools, and other construction activities. OSHA has provided a brief publication to explain the rule which can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3681.pdf
4. Radon Control: notice came that the radon control requirements for new construction, which were introduced into the state building code in January 2015, have been determined by the BBRS to NOT apply to a newly constructed addition or the existing portion of the building.