Lead is a naturally occurring metal and a key component of products such as lead-acid batteries for cars and other vehicles. Although essential, lead is not without its problems. Unprotected exposure to this metal can cause lead poisoning. Commercial lead paints are one of the main sources of lead poisoning in the United States, and children are particularly at risk.
The state of New Jersey has taken steps to protect residents, and municipalities are called upon to enforce this new law. Scheduling inspections and ensuring compliance is easy and convenient with software packages like FastTrackGov® (FTG).
How New Jersey is Protecting Residents
Preventing lead poisoning has been at the heart of government initiatives to remove lead pipework and other sources of exposure for decades. New Jersey itself banned the use of lead-based paint in residential properties in 1972, six years before the federal government. Until then, lead paint had been a favorite with contractors because of its durability.
Most Americans no longer need to worry about exposure in their homes. However, some are still affected by the consequences of breathing in toxic fumes from lead paint, especially those living in older properties.
Recognizing the issue, the state of New Jersey recently took action and passed the New Jersey Paint Inspection Law in 2021. The legislation passed in 2022, and a state policy was added to outline details of how municipalities were to protect their residents. From 2023, municipalities are called upon to protect their residents by scheduling regular inspections of rental properties.
The goal is to minimize or even eradicate lead paint exposure and protect citizens across the state. While we will focus on New Jersey for this article, other states may have relevant regulations, too. If you are concerned about lead exposure, check with your local municipality.
Despite the known dangers of lead exposure and lead poisoning, the state of New Jersey recognized that relevant regulations had not been enforced effectively. The new law is looking to change that to effectively eradicate lead poisoning through exposure in the home.
What Municipalities Need to do Now
Municipalities are now called upon to deliver effective home inspections and remove lead poisoning hazards where they still exist.
In practice, that means identifying properties that were built before the state banned lead-based paints. The New Jersey government is asking communities to not only consider residential properties but also inspect the likes of childcare facilities, where lead exposure could have life-long consequences for young children.
The good news is that municipalities are not alone in their quest to eliminate lead poisoning. The state is offering detailed guidance on what local governments and their contractors need to be looking for and how to prioritize what they are finding.
One of the major hazards that inspectors need to check for is deteriorating paint. Any signs of peeling, cracking, or otherwise damaged paint. This type of paint requires attention immediately, especially if it remains on surfaces that children might chew or surfaces that receive heavy traffic. Think about stairs and railings, for example, but also doors and doorframes.
Painted surfaces that are still in good condition are less likely to cause exposure. However, there is really no way of telling whether a property is affected without a thorough inspection.
The law is asking municipalities to take charge of the safety of their residents. For example, a town or city may allow property owners to hire their own certified lead evaluation contractors, but local governments may also insist on supplemental inspections. Alternatively, municipalities can prohibit owners to hire their own contractors. This may be an option when there is a conflict of interest between owner and contractor or when owners have failed to meet inspection deadlines.
If inspections find lead, property owners are then required to mitigate the problems through certain control mechanisms. Removing lead paint can also be hazardous, as the process may release paint dust and fumes into the air, exposing contractors and other people on the property.
The new law requires municipalities to expect all relevant properties in their area no later than July 2024 or when a tenant leaves a property. That means, communities in New Jersey now have a little more than a year to put procedures and processes into place to protect their residents. Once initial inspections have been completed, municipalities and owners still need to ensure regular inspections every three years.
How Software Like FTG Can Help
At first sight, the requirements stated by the New Jersey Lead Paint Inspection Law may seem overwhelming to local governments. However, with the right tools, your municipality can achieve compliance without adding to the workload of municipality staff.
In most communities around the United States, municipality workers have busy days dealing with a wide range of tasks. By introducing software products like Mitchell Humphrey’s FTG, local leaders can streamline even complex workplace processes like lead paint inspections.
Access Information in One Central Place
FTG allows your municipality’s team to access all the information you need to schedule the inspections of properties covered under the law. Identifying relevant properties is simple, too.
Filtering data makes it easy to see how many properties will require inspections over the next year. For some communities, the number may be very low, whereas others may still have considerable numbers of older buildings that are being rented.
Schedule Inspections Conveniently Online
With properties identified, owners or municipalities can then schedule inspections online. Using internet-based portals like FTG means that municipalities and citizens can connect 24/7. Property owners do not need to rely on government office hours to update the status of their property, for example.
Depending on how your municipality configures the software, contractors can automatically be notified of required inspections. Once they have completed the job, they would be able to upload the results for the owner and the municipality to see.
Using FTG in this way allows all parties involved to stay informed about the building’s status and any work required.
Schedule and Monitor Remedial Work
For some of the inspected properties, it may be necessary to schedule remedial work. Again, this is something owners and municipality employees can do and monitor online through FTG. The software helps employees understand what percentage of properties has been brought up to standard and where additional support may be needed.
Rather than trying to track physical folders or files saved on individual computers, all relevant details are kept safely in one place.
Automatic Reminders of Reinspection Requirements
The new law calls for renewed inspections to be carried out every three years. Simply relying on owner or employee memory is not a very safe approach to ensuring compliance with this law. Scheduling and automating reminders for recurring inspections allows for changes in ownership, employees changing jobs, or retiring without the risk of undue loss of information.
New Jersey’s Lead Paint Inspection Law helps keep tenants in rental properties safe. Although lead-based paints have been prohibited in the state for several decades, they can still be found in older properties.
Requiring regular lead paint inspections in older properties is a great step toward protecting the health of New Jersey residents. The new law will force rental property owners to ensure the housing they are offering is safe. At the same time, the law puts pressure on municipalities to enforce inspections, ensure they are carried out as scheduled, and any remedial work is completed satisfactorily.
While it may initially seem like the law is adding to the workload of municipal employees, there is a simple solution for that. Secure, fully integrated government software like FTG allows municipalities to schedule inspections and monitor progress efficiently and conveniently.
Municipality employees can access all relevant information from one single dashboard, allowing them to ensure citizens in their community are kept safe. Talk to our team today to learn more about how FTG can help your community prevent lead poisoning for good.