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Auto Body Certification Program

For Technical Issues

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The Auto Body Certification Program provides a simpler and more useful way to regulate the auto body repair sector. From 1998 to 2002, 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, collaborated 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 pointed to serious concerns that needed to be addressed by both voluntary methods and regulatory controls.

In response to these findings, the Department 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 allows auto body shops to determine their compliance status. A certification form that includes all of this information is mailed to each auto body shop in the state, on a three year cycle. The Department then analyzes this data, measures compliance rates and determines where best to focus its assistance and compliance efforts.

This initiative has been viewed as the 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 larger 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 patterned 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 has reproduced these results and has gone one step further by including measurable results for worker health and safety. The participation by the Department of Health, URI, and Davies Vocational has ensured that the program is an environmental, occupational health, educational and economic success.

For additional 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 (Directions); Tel: 401/222-4700 ext. 7500; Fax: 401/222-3810; E-mail: