Workers who face hazardous substances exposure—whether in an emergency response scenario or a site clean-up job—must complete training under OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER Standard) at 29 CFR 1910.120. The OSHA HAZWOPER Standard contains training requirements for all levels of facility supervisors, emergency responders, and clean-up site workers, and others.
HAZWOPER training is not one-size-fits-all: Workers with different responsibilities must have training that covers what they must do—or not do—in order to protect themselves around hazardous substances.
What Kind Of HAZWOPER Training Do I Need?
HAZWOPER EMERGENCY RESPONSE TRAINING
The first moments of a hazardous substance release are critical to the safety of your workers and your facility. Every employee who may be present during a release must know exactly what to do, and carry out their responsibilities at a moment’s notice.
Whether his or her job is to alert others and evacuate, cover drains and vents, suit up and attack the release, or anything in between, effective HAZWOPER training is critical.
OSHA’s HAZWOPER training standard for emergency response is found at 1910.120(q). These regulations require specific training for personnel with the following job duties:
"Awareness” or “FRA”
– These employees may encounter or discover a release, and are typically responsible for alerting appropriate personnel and evacuating the area to make room for a proper emergency response.
“First Responder Operations” or “FRO”
– These employees take defensive actions to prevent the spread of a hazardous substance release. Covering drains and vents, remotely shutting down equipment, and other tasks that can be done without trying to physically stop the release.
“Hazardous Materials Technicians” or “Techs”
– These employees take aggressive response actions. These are the personnel who don appropriate PPE and approach the point of a hazardous substance release to plug, patch, or otherwise stop the release.
“Hazardous Materials Specialists”
– These employees assist and support the Technicians during an emergency response. Specialists hold specialized knowledge about the materials on site and provide crucial guidance during the response.
– The incident commander oversees the entire response operation. He or she may also rely on the Hazardous Materials Specialists for knowledge about the materials and proper response techniques.
HAZWOPER SITE CLEANUP TRAINING
Site clean-up training is required for personnel who work at “uncontrolled hazardous waste sites,” including managers, supervisors, and any employees who may be exposed to hazardous substances and health hazards during cleanup activities. This includes workers with non-cleanup duties, like utility workers, general laborers, and others.
OSHA’s HAZWOPER Standard for site cleanup operations is found at 29 CFR 1910.120(e).
These regulations include training requirements for the following personnel:
General site workers:
Common job responsibilities for general site workers include assessing the site, operating equipment on site, excavating drums and other containers, monitoring hazardous substances, taking environmental samples, handling drums of hazardous waste, supervising personnel, and more.
Occasional site workers
– These employees visit the site occasionally to perform specific tasks like land surveying, painting, etc.