Safety is of utmost importance. Workers engaged in hazardous waste management possess high health and safety risk because of greater exposure to hazardous materials. Regulatory bodies provide complete guidelines for handling hazardous materials. In the United States and its territories, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for safe management of hazardous materials and emergency responses.
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response abbreviated as HAZWOPER is a set of standards developed by the OSHA to safeguard the employees involved in hazardous waste operations. Some common queries that knock the mind regarding the HAZWOPER standard have been answered in this article to provide better understanding to the employees and the employers engaged in managing hazardous materials ensuring a health-friendly workplace.
1. Which Groups of Employees and Employers are Covered Under the OSHA’s HAZWOPER Standard?
The five groups of employers and employees who deal with hazardous materials or hazardous waste come under the HAZWOPER standard. It includes:
- Workers involved in the clean-up services of hazardous materials as specified by the federal, state or local government at an uncontrolled site of hazardous waste. An uncontrolled site is a site where continuous collection of hazardous waste becomes threatening for individuals and the environment.
- Workers involved in the clean-up services of hazardous materials as specified by RCRA. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the U.S. law that governs disposal of solid and hazardous waste.
- Employees exposed to hazardous waste at the TSDFs (Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities).
- The generators of hazardous waste.
- Workers providing emergency response services during the release of hazardous materials.
- Cheers on learning the basic idea of HAZWOPER! Let’s study further regarding the HAZWOPER training.
2. Is Computer-Based Refresher Training Permitted?
In this tech-friendly world, you may wonder if refreshers can be trained via CBT or not? The on-site workers exposed to hazardous waste substances, safety hazards and health hazards, and the management and supervisors of these workers are required to be adequately trained before they begin the hazardous waste operations. In addition to the initial training, an annual refresher training is also required. Yes, to comply with the OSHA, above employees need 8-hour refresher course on an annual basis. Past occurring incidents and the solutions to deal with them is the main area to be covered in a refresher course. CBT (Computer-based Training) is permitted if all job-related topics are covered ensuring a safer workplace.
3. How Many Workers are at Least Required at a Potential IDLH During an Emergency Response?
Ever heard of IDLH? It is an acronym for Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health. The IDLH sites are exposed to very high level of hazards, leading to severe and even deadly injuries. While responding to the emergencies at an IDLH site, at least four employees are required; two working inside the site and two working outside the site for an immediate help and rescue.
4. Can a Re-Fresher Course be Taken in Segments?
As we already know that in compliance with the OSHA’s HAZWOPER standard, an initial training is followed by an annual eight-hour refresher course. There is no harm in taking this course in segments if completion of 8 hours is ensured.
5. Timeline for the Re-Fresher Training Elapsed! What can now be the Course of Action?
An employer should keep proper record of all due trainings of its employees in each employee file. Just in case, an employee has not taken the refresher training timely, reason for the delay should be recorded and prior to enrolling the employee in an upcoming refresher course, it must be evaluated by the employer whether the employee requires an initial training again or not, based on the knowledge and understanding of the employee. On the job performance assessment is encouraged for getting a clear picture.
6. What Requires to be a Good HAZWOPER Trainer?
A good HAZWOPER trainer is the one who is academically qualified, professionally experienced, and certified on the subject he has to teach in order to train the employees of hazardous waste operations. The Code of Federal Regulation (CFR)states that “Trainers shall be qualified to instruct employees about the subject matter that is being presented in training”. [29 CFR 1910.120(e)(5)]
7. Which Training Does Hospital Staff Require?
Like other professions, the hospital staff also possess health and safety risks as they are exposed to hazardous chemicals. Keeping in mind the worst scenarios, the probable risks need to be identified. In order to minimize the hazards, the HAZWOPER standard obligates the employers to ensure that their staff is sufficiently trained with the initial trainings and the refresher courses. An in-house training or the standard first responder operations level course may be taken. Training courses on decontamination and PPE can also be taken if applicable.
8. What is an Incidental Spill and an Emergency Spill?
The presence of hazardous materials always has a risk of spills i.e. the release of hazardous substances. People generally get confused while differentiating between an incidental spill and an emergency spill but, it is no more difficult.
OSHA defines an incidental spill as the release of hazardous substances which do not possess severe health and safety risks for the people exposed to it while clean up or in any other form. The amount of the release and its toxicity is less and there is no chance of the release to become critical shortly. The incidental spill response workers need training along with adequate use of personal protective instruments (PPE) in accordance with the regulatory guidelines. The clean-up of these substances is safe for employees who have ample knowledge of the substances they are dealing with.
Unlike incidental spills, an uncontrolled release of high levels of toxic substances, immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH), and the risk of explosion etc. come under an emergency spill. Basically, these spills possess higher health and safety risk and need preparation for the emergency response. A single factor doesn’t define an emergency spill. Larger volume of spill is usually hazardous but small amount of highly toxic chemical can be riskier too. An emergency response according to OSHA is “response effort by employees from outside the immediate release area or by other designated responders (i.e., mutual-aid groups, local fire departments, etc.) to an occurrence which results, or is likely to result, in an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance.” [29 CFR 1910.120(a)(3)]
9. Are the On-Site Workers, not Directly Involved in Clean-Up Activities Also Under Threat?
The employees like utility workers who work at a site that is safe but expects to get contaminated comes under the hazardous waste operation and emergency response. These workers are also exposed to the hazards and therefore need training in accordance with HAZWOPER standard and are required to work under the supervision of an on-site supervisor along with health and safety plan ready until site characterization confirms that these employees or their tasks on this site are not exposed to any hazardous substances.
In case of confirmation that the site has low to no risk, smaller extent of PPE or employee training is allowed but the minimum hours of training mandatory for each worker should be communicated clearly by the utility contractor with respect to each worker’s job responsibilities.
10. Does HAZWOPER Standard Apply to Small Quality Generators?
Generators producing less than 100 kg per month of non-acutely hazardous waste are known as Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs). These generators are exempted to comply with the requirements of the HAZWOPER standard but, if the employers of the generation facility are “Excepted Employers” i.e. employers obligated by the EPA or state agency for engaging their employees in the emergency response services, they need to prepare and implement an emergency response plan. As stated in section 1(v) of this article, the emergency responders are required to comply with the HAZWOPER standard. Responders according to the level of their emergency response need to be trained. To learn more about the levels of emergency response, read our article HAZWOPER Training Levels- Know The Basics.
11. How is the HAZWOPER Standard Applicable to the TSDFs, Storing Hazardous Materials for 90 Days or Less?
The Conditionally exempt small quantity generators and the generators storing hazardous wastes for less than 90 days are exempted from complying with the HAZWOPER standard excluding those engaged in the emergency response program. If the TSDF workers are exposed to the safety and health hazards at their workplace, they require adequate training but if the facility is not exposed to any such risk, or the employer intends to evacuate all employees in case of an emergency, the training requirement may be exempted.
Great! You have Understood the Importance of HAZWOPER Training. Enroll Today for an Online HAZWOPER Training Course That Best Suits You!
To minimize the health and safety risks and to be OSHA compliant, employers must ensure that their employees are properly trained. We provide HAZWOPER (e) series and HAZWOPER (p) series, courses tailored in accordance with the regulatory guidelines to suffice the training needs at your workplace.
For more training options feel free to write us at: info@HAZWOPER-OSHA.com
- Frequently Asked Questions: HAZWOPER.
- Code of Federal Regulation: Title 29
- Code of Federal Regulation: Title 29