McCadden: Use RRP Training to Mitigate Covid-19 and Help Keep Business Going

Lead-safe work practices are the perfect means to keep your clients and your employees safe.

By Shawn McCadden, CR

I’ve been reading how lumberyards and building product suppliers are proactively changing and marketing to highlight how they do business to both protect their employees and customers. They are also doing this to protect the financial health of their businesses. Remodelers need to do the same.

Adjusting how you sell your work so people will still do business with you is important. The good news is that can be done, in many cases, without having to physically meet. Even if meeting in person is necessary, practicing social distancing, staying at least six feet away from each other, can be a practical option to make sales calls possible. However, when it comes to do the install, how will you protect your workers as well as the occupants of the home you will be working on?

Doing just exterior work can help support a strategy of social distancing, provided workers are trained how to do so and how to follow through. But only offering and performing exterior work is not practical for many remodelers.

Social distancing is more difficult when you are doing work on the interior of a home. And, because the virus can survive on surfaces for many hours, controlling and maintaining a healthy environment during the work, and then leaving it clean is another goal, one that might not be easily accomplished if your field staff is following traditional work practices. Your prospects will quickly figure this out, and it could get in the way of selling work. Those who have already bought from you are also worried about these concerns and may decide to either postpone, or worse, cancel their projects.

A reward for those who have maintained their RRP training and practices

It occurred to me, that many of the work practices I taught while doing RRP Certified Renovator Training could easily be used

QR Columnist Shawn McCadden

and or adapted to help keep interior projects moving forward, and at the same time protect the health and safety of occupants and workers. The protocols for how the work is done have already been created. They have been documented and have proven to be fairly effective. Therefore, RRP lead-safe practices used as a way to mitigate the possible spread of coronavirus should be pretty easy to explain and to use as a means to build confidence with a concerned prospect or customer. Articulating your new way of working will be challenging at first, but with the right plan, some marketing and the right sales approach, that RRP Training many people hated and laughed at might just be a powerful solution your business can quickly take advantage of during these trying times.

Think containment and differentiate at the same time

Although the EPA called a lot of what was taught in class “work practices,” I disagreed with that term. Really, most of the training was about containment practices. I was instructed and required to teach how to control dust and debris from leaving a contained work area, not how to do the work in ways that would limit the creation of dust. These same containment practices can be used at a job site to separate the work and workers form the rest of the home and its occupants.

Following RRP practices, like installing and maintaining vertical containment, can differentiate your company from your competition, and if explained properly, help build confidence that having the work done will be safe.

Using the right configuration, vertical containment can control air movement in the home, limit where workers will be, and create a barrier to keep unwanted people and pets away from the work as well as the workers. Simply put, vertical containment and work-area containment practices combined together, can foster and maintain social distancing. If needed, you can also limit staffing within contained work areas to just one employee at a time to avoid community spread of the virus among your employees.

Follow the RRP cleaning and cleaning-verification methods as well

Certified Renovators were trained how to properly clean, and verify adequate cleaning, after performing RRP regulated work. My research shows that using a HEPA vac does not filter out viruses. Apparently, viruses and bacteria are just too small and thus pass through a HEPA Filter. However, in the training we were taught how to clean using wet processes. In my opinion, cleaning with wet wipes, specifically using disinfecting wet wipes, could be a great way to clean a jobsite work area before allowing the owner and occupants to return to and use the space.

Just like with RRP work, all surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned before the vertical containment is removed. Perhaps, using appropriate PPE supplies like gloves and face masks, workers could use both the RRP cleaning protocols as well as the defined RRP cleaning-verification process to make sure the work areas have been left clean based on a certain pre-established standard of cleaning.

As an extra precaution, you can also suggest owners stay out of the work area for several days after cleaning it. Opinions vary, and this virus is new, but one source claims the virus can only survive for three days on hard surfaces, while another suggests up to nine days under certain conditions.

Then there is documentation

The EPA RRP rule requires documentation of the work done as well as the work practices used to both perform the work and do final cleanup of the work areas. Protocol and paperwork for this already exist. I suggest that these can be easily adapted for documenting how you will protect the living space you work in as well as the people who use and live in them.

Just as a Certified Renovator trains its non-certified workers on how to perform the RRP-specific work practices, you and your management staff can train, and document the training of field workers on how to maintain and clean up a job site. Why not also document the way you contained the work and cleaned up before allowing the owner and occupants to use it again?

Requiring your lead carpenter to document the work and cleanup can help hold field staff accountable to actually following through on your strategies. Documenting can also be a good way of showing customers you protected them and did what you promised you would do when you sold them the job. Documenting what your business did might also help limit or avoid legal liabilities related to future coronavirus infections. There are no guarantees against liability. Consumers can sue a business for anything they want. But, having a proactive plan of action and documenting that your business followed it, can help limit accusations of negligence.

This Coronavirus pandemic is new to all of us right now. We are all going through scary times. Education is one way to address the challenge and to address our anxieties about it. My suggestion of using RRP-related protocols and work practices is just one creative way of using what already exists so we don’t all try to reinvent the wheel. Be safe out there. QR

Shawn McCadden CR, CLC, CAPS  is a remodeling industry specialist, consultant, educator and speaker. You can read his blog at www.shawnmccadden.com or email him at shawn@shawnmccadden.com.

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