The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard found at 29 CFR 1910.120 was published as a Final Rule in the Federal Register on March 6, 1989 (FR 54:9294–336) and went into effect one year later on March 6, 1990. The HAZWOPER standard was incorporated into the Construction Safety Orders at 29 CFR 1926.65 on June 30, 1993. The EPA also promulgated the standard in 40 CFR 311.

OSHA was required by congress through the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA), Title I, to promulgate a standard for the protection of workers during hazardous waste operations, including emergency response to releases of hazardous substances.

The HAZWOPER standard covers three distinct groups of workers. The following is taken from the Abstract of the Final Rule; This rule will regulate the safety and health of employees involved in clean-up operations at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites being cleaned-up under government mandate, in certain hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) operations conducted under RCRA, and in any emergency response to incidents involving hazardous substances.

HAZWOPER identifies specific training requirements for each of the three specific groups of workers. The level of training required depends on the role and responsibilities the worker is expected to perform. The standard identifies different types of workers each having their own requirements for the length of training and the competencies expected of them. This session will present an overview of the different training requirements for each type of worker along with some of the common misconceptions.

Hazardous Waste Site Workers

The first group of workers identified by the standard is the Hazardous Waste Site worker.

Typically, the cleanup worker is remediating a site after a hazardous substance release has occurred and the location and level of hazardous substances on the site are well-characterized. The training requirements for the hazardous waste site worker are found at 1910.120(e). Three different types of workers are clearly identified in this section.

  1. General Site Workers, 1910.120(e)(3)(i) - General Site Workers are those employees engaged in hazardous substance removal or other activities which expose or potentially expose workers to hazardous substances and health hazards. These workers must receive 40 hours of instruction off the site, and a minimum of three days supervised field experience.

  2. Occasional Site Workers, 1910.120(e)(3)(ii) - Occasional Site Workers are those employees on site only occasionally for a specific limited task and who are unlikely to be exposed over permissible exposure limits and published exposure limits. These employees are to receive 24 hours of instruction off the site, and a minimum of one day supervised field experience.

  3. Management and Supervisors, 1910.120(e)(4) - These are employees who directly supervise General or Occasional site workers. They are required to have the same training as the employees they are supervising plus an additional eight hours of specialized training.

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