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RI DEM Auto Body Certification Program

The Auto Body Certification Program provides a simpler and more useful way to regulate the auto body repair sector. The Department’s Pollution Prevention Program, in partnership with the University of Rhode Island URI) Center for Pollution Prevention, the Department of Health’s OSHA Consultative Services, and Davies Vocational School, has been working with a number of individual shops to identify both environmental and human health hazards. A major research and data gathering effort that included air monitoring, sanding dust characterization, and blood lead testing of shop workers has pointed to serious concerns that must be addressed by both voluntary methods and regulatory controls.

The Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its partners to establish a certification program covering training requirements, hazardous waste management, air quality concerns, occupational health and safety, and pollution prevention techniques in a question and answer format that will allow any auto body shop to determine its compliance status. A certification form that includes all of this information will be mailed to all auto body shops in the state. The Department will then be able to use this information to perform statistical analysis that measures compliance rates and to determine where best to focus its assistance and compliance efforts.

This initiative is being viewed as a first ever regulatory and assistance partnership involving state environmental and health departments, a state university and a vocational training institution that results in an environmentally measurable protection program. It leverages scarce resources, reaches a substantially higher segment of the regulated sector, and requires only a minor effort by the regulated sector than any traditional permitting and enforcement program has before.

The Department is patterning this program after the very successful Environmental Results Program initiated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP, 1999- see references). Significantly higher compliance rates and improved environmental business practices have been reported. The Department aims to reproduce these results and go one step further by including measurable results for worker health and safety. The participation by the Department of Health, URI, and Davies Vocational will ensure that the program will be an environmental, occupational health, educational and economic success.

For further information, contact the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Customer and Technical Assistance, 235 Promenade Street, Suite 250, Providence, Rhode Island 02908-5767; Tel: 401/222-4700 ext. 7500; Fax: 401/222-3810; E-mail: ron.gagnon@dem.ri.gov.

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