OSHAcademy Safety Training Logo

HAZWOPER Frequently Asked Questions

Who is covered by OSHA's HAZWOPER standard?

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) applies to five distinct groups of employers and their employees. This includes any employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances -- including hazardous waste -- and who are engaged in one of the following operations as specified by 1910.120(a)(1)(i-v) and 1926.65(a)(1)(i-v):

  • clean-up operations -- required by a governmental body, whether federal, state, local, or other involving hazardous substances -- that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;
  • corrective actions involving clean-up operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.);
  • voluntary clean-up operations at sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;
  • operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations; and
  • emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.

Is computer-based training acceptable for refresher training?

Computer-based training may meet some refresher training requirements, provided that it covers topics relevant to workers' assigned duties. It must be supplemented by the opportunity to ask questions of a qualified trainer and by an assessment of hands-on performance of work tasks.

For emergency response in an unknown or potentially IDLH atmosphere, what is the minimum number of people required?

At a minimum, four (4) people are required: two working as a team inside the unknown or potentially IDLH atmosphere, and two working outside this atmosphere for assistance or rescue.

For emergency response in an unknown or potentially IDLH atmosphere, what is the minimum number of people required?

At a minimum, four (4) people are required: two working as a team inside the unknown or potentially IDLH atmosphere, and two working outside this atmosphere for assistance or rescue.

Can refresher training be given in segments?

Refresher training may be given in segments so long as the required 8 hours have been completed by the employee's anniversary date.

What if refresher training isn't received in 12 months?

If the date for refresher training has lapsed, the need to repeat initial training must be determined based on the employee's familiarity with safety and health procedures used on site. The employee should take the next available refresher training course. "There should be a record in the employee's file indicating why the training has been delayed and when the training will be completed."

What are the training or certification requirements for HAZWOPER trainers?

The "Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response" standard (HAZWOPER), 29 CFR 1910.120, states in paragraph (e)(5) that "Trainers shall be qualified to instruct employees about the subject matter that is being presented in training". In addition, 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(5) explains that the qualifications of the instructors may be shown by academic degrees, completed training courses and/or work experience.

At this time, OSHA does not have any specific requirements to certify an instructor. The subjects that trainers should be able to convey to employees at hazardous waste operations who need training are summarized in paragraphs (e), (p) and (q) of the HAZWOPER standard.

What are the HAZWOPER training requirements for hospital staff?

OSHA's Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response standard (HAZWOPER) requires that workers be trained to perform their anticipated job duties without endangering themselves or others. To determine the level and type of training your workers need, you must consider the hazards in your community and what capabilities your personnel need to respond to those hazards. You should make your determination based on worst-case scenarios. If your personnel are expected to provide limited decontamination services in order to attend to medical problems, they must be trained to the first responder operations level with emphasis on the use of PPE and decontamination procedures. This level of emergency response training is described in 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(ii); additional guidance about the content of this training is available in HAZWOPER's Appendix E. Hospitals may develop in-house training or they may send personnel to a standard first responder operations level course, then provide additional training in decontamination and PPE as needed. HAZWOPER requires the employer to certify that workers have the training and competencies listed in (q)(6)(ii). The standard also requires annual refresher training or demonstration of competency, as described in (q)(8).

What is the difference between an incidental and an emergency spill?

An incidental release is a release of a hazardous substance which does not pose a significant safety or health hazard to employees in the immediate vicinity or to the employee cleaning it up, nor does it have the potential to become an emergency within a short time frame. Incidental releases are limited in quantity, exposure potential, or toxicity and present minor safety or health hazards to employees in the immediate work area or those assigned to clean them up. An incidental spill may be safely cleaned up by employees who are familiar with the hazards of the chemicals with which they are working.

The properties of hazardous substances, such as toxicity, volatility, flammability, explosiveness, corrosiveness, etc., as well as the particular circumstances of the release itself, such as quantity, confined space considerations, ventilation, etc., will have an impact on what employees can handle safely and what procedures should be followed.

Additionally, there are other factors that may mitigate the hazards associated with a release and its remediation, such as the knowledge of the employee in the immediate work area, the response and personal protective equipment (PPE) at hand, and the pre-established standard operating procedures for responding to releases of hazardous substances.

There are some engineering control measures that will mitigate the release that employees can activate to assist them in controlling and stopping the release.

These considerations (properties of the hazardous substance, the circumstances of the release, and the mitigating factors in the work area) combine to define the distinction between incidental releases and releases that require an emergency response. The distinction is facility-specific and is a function of the emergency response plan.

What are the HAZWOPER training requirements for on-site workers who are not directly involved in cleanup activities?

Workers, such as utility workers, who must perform duties at a hazardous waste site that has not yet been characterized but where contamination is expected, do fall under the scope of 29 CFR 1910.120. These workers must work under the direction of an on-site supervisor and a site-specific safety and health plan, and must be fully trained and protected pursuant to the HAZWOPER standard. When additional information becomes available through site characterization which verifies that there is minimal or no risk of employee exposure to hazardous substances, a lesser degree of PPE and worker training may be acceptable.

When site characterization shows that the area to be serviced by workers is free of potential exposure, or the proposed work assignments would not expose any of the work crew to hazardous substances, the activity can be carried out as a normal maintenance or construction operation.

... The utility contractor is bound to provide at least the minimum number of training hours specified. On a hazardous waste site that has many site specific peculiarities the employer may need to train employees beyond the 40 or 24 hour minimum set by the standard. Employees must be provided training that prepares them for their job functions and responsibilities, as stated in the general requirements in 29 CFR 1910.120(e).

What is the applicability of HAZWOPER to small quantity generators?

Employers who are not required to have a permit or interim status because they are conditionally exempt small quantity generators under 40 CFR 261.5 or are generators who qualify under 40 CFR 262.34 for exemptions from regulation under 40 CFR 262.34 for exemptions from regulation under 40 CFR parts 264, 265, and 270 ("excepted employers") are not covered by paragraphs (p)(1) through (p)(7) of this section [1910.120 or 1926.65]. Excepted employers who are required by the EPA or state agency to have their employees engage in emergency response or who direct their employees to engage in emergency response are covered by paragraph (p)(8) of this section [1910.120 or 1926.65], and cannot be exempted by (p)(8)(i) of this section [1910.120 or 1926.65].

What is the application of HAZWOPER to TSD facilities that store hazardous materials for 90 days or less?

Conditionally-exempt small quantity generators and generators who store hazardous wastes for less than 90 days are exempt from compliance with sections (p)(1) through (p)(7), and are thus covered only by section (p)(8), the emergency response program.

Employers who have hazardous waste storage areas in their facilities have the option of meeting the emergency response requirements of HAZWOPER by complying with either paragraph (p)(8) or paragraph (q) for those areas. The employer must meet the requirements of paragraph (q) for other areas of their facility which have potential for emergency releases of hazardous substances or hazardous raw materials.

... [Regarding the] exemption from employee training requirements under paragraph (p)(8) if the employer intends to evacuate employees in the event of an emergency. Paragraph (p)(8)(i), like paragraph (q)(1), provides an exemption from the emergency response requirements if the employer intends to evacuate all employees and provides an emergency action plan (i.e., an evacuation plan) in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.38(a).

However, the HAZWOPER standard states in paragraph (a)(2)(iii)(B) that "employers who are required by the EPA or state agency to have their employees engage in emergency response... are covered by paragraph (p)(8) of this section, and cannot be exempted by (p)(8)(i) of this section."

Source: OSHA

Copyright ©2000-2015 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).