1 Million Emergency Responders in Scope of Proposed OSHA Rule

Posted on 2/5/2024 by Roger Marks

On February 5, 2024, OSHA proposed a new Emergency Response Standard for firefighters, EMS providers, and technical search and rescuers. 

The proposed Standard would replace the Fire Brigade Standard (29 CFR 1910.156) and consolidate a “patchwork” of hazard-specific standards and state regulations in place today to protect these responders.

More than one million emergency responders fall within the scope of the proposed rule, OSHA estimates, about one-third of whom self-identify as volunteers. While Federal OSHA Standards do not apply to volunteer emergency responders, States with OSHA-authorized health and safety programs may treat volunteers differently.  

OSHA will accept public comments on the proposed rule until May 6, 2024. If stakeholders request an informal public hearing about the proposed rule during the comment process, OSHA will schedule the hearing and provide details at that time. 

1 Million Emergency Responders in Scope of Proposed OSHA Rule

Changes and updates to other existing OSHA Standards in this proposed rule include: 

  • Revising the PPE requirements in the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response or HAZWOPER Standard [1910.120(q)(3)(iii)]. 
  • Updating Appendix B to 1910.120 in the HAZWOPER Standard to replace outdated consensus standards with a current national standard, NFPA 1990. 
  • Re-locating the respiratory protection requirements for Structural Firefighting from 1910.134 to the proposed 1910.156. 
  • Adding several terms and definitions to 1910, Subpart L, Fire Protection, and deleting others.  

The proposed Emergency Response Standard would cover more responders than the existing Fire Brigade Standard, which applies to general industry employers that have or establish fire brigades or fire departments.

Compared to the existing rules, OSHA says:  

"The scope of the proposed rule is larger, expanding beyond employers who provide only firefighting services to include employers that provide other emergency services, such as pre-hospital EMS and technical search and rescue services. In addition, the proposed rule would impact public and municipal fire departments and other emergency response employers in States with OSHA-approved State Plans..." 

[89 FR 24, 02/05/24, p. 7802]

The proposed regulations aim to better address the “full range of hazards currently facing emergency responders.” The current health and safety regulations that apply to these types of emergency response activities are decades old, OSHA says, and are not up to date with improvements in best practices that have been incorporated into industry consensus standards.

HAZWOPER Training for Hazmat Emergencies 

OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard requires training and re-training for personnel who respond to emergency releases of hazardous substances. HAZWOPER training is required for responders at five levels of responsibility, starting with the awareness level.

Find initial or refresher courses to help satisfy OSHA training mandates for hazardous materials technicians and others who respond to emergency hazardous substance releases at

Who needs HAZWOPER training?

Tags: emergency response, HAZWOPER

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