Author Topic: Conflict of Interest Defined in Federal & Industry Standards:  (Read 62 times)


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      In the past we've discussed how it is a conflict of interest for someone or some company to provide inspection and remediation/restoration services.  What I'd like to do in this article is expand on that conversation by sharing some of the federal and industry-based standards which have been used in court cases across the Midwestern United States (U.S.), defining such provisions of service as a conflict of interest.

      First, the courts look to previously defined uses of conflict of interest.  Therein, the courts have defined the burden of proof in relation to proving conflict of interest is this: A person or company's actions may have been corrupted by a self-interest rather than proving the conflict existed; in other words, the person or company cannot provide the services without being effected by providing both - regardless of whether or not they were effected.  An example of this is a mold inspector who provides mold remediation services.  The outcome of his or her inspection of your property may effect his remediation practice.  Whether or not the inspection actual does is irrelevant to the courts.  The fact that it can means the court sees it as a conflict of interest.

      Secondly, the courts look at federal standards and guidelines, which outline certain necessities on every work-site.  One such necessity is the definition of specific hazards on a work-site by competent persons, defined by OSHA as industrial hygienists.  While the term industrial hygienist is not owned by any one organization or association, it is defined in relation to the science used by these professionals and their competency in that science: industrial hygiene.  To learn more about industrial hygiene and industrial hygienists, I point you to the following two resources:

      1.)  OSHA website on industrial hygiene:

      2.)  My article on industrial hygiene and industrial hygienists:

      Thirdly, the courts will look at industry-based standards of care.  In this case we can find more specific discussions of conflict of interest in the way it is warned against, such as but not limited to the following examples:

      1.) Independence.  It is preferable, it states in many industry standards, that the industrial hygienist be an unbiased resource.  This industrial hygienist should be independent of the remediator, and any remediator acting as their own industrial hygienist is to disclose that - in writing - to their customer before providing services.

      2.) Confidentiality.  There are various confidentiality clauses that exist in every industry, and the industrial hygiene and remediation industries are no different.  Where an industrial hygienist is retained by someone other than the remediator, there may be a limit on what the industrial hygienist can share with parties other than their client (and vice versa).  This is especially true of legal cases.  Where the same person or company has performed both services these protections are violated and, especially in legal cases, prove impossible to use in favor of anyone involved.

      3.)  Overlap.  The overlap of services are frowned upon by most industry standards as an ethical violation.  They go so far as to warn remediators to keep aware of situations where overlaps exist and encourage them to educate their clients by recommending or transferring responsibility to an industrial hygienist for proper assessments, inspections, testing, sampling and verification.

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      So, when looking to hire someone for your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) or Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) or occupational safety and health needs, make sure to confirm they're providing you defensible, honest, reliable, need-specific work, void of conflict of interest practices (e.g., product sales and restoration, restoration and inspection, inspection and remediation, property sales and inspection, etc.).

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