HAZWOPER is the acronym for the OSHA standard that regulates hazardous waste operations and emergency response. A toxic chemical or substance that is accidentally released can have a serious and lasting impact on workers, and this standard works to establish safe practices in these situations.
A major element of the HAZWOPER standard is training. If an emergency spill or release of hazardous waste occurs, those who may be exposed must be properly trained. All employees working on the clean-up site or at risk for exposure to hazardous materials are required by OSHA to complete training before they can be involved in hazardous waste operations. There are three levels for employee HAZWOPER training:
- Emergency response: Employees who are outside of the immediate release are or other designated responders such as first HAZMAT technicians or incident commanders.
- Clean-up: Clean-up typically takes place following an emergency response or as part of a separate hazardous waste clean-up operation.
- Treatment, storage and disposal
Employees and employers that are covered by this OSHA standard are required to complete an initial HAZWOPER training course as well as annual refresher training courses. The HAZWOPER standard identifies a list of topics that must be thoroughly covered in training including the names of personnel responsible for site safety and health, present hazards on site, the use of personal protective equipment, safe use of engineering controls, and medical surveillance requirements. Depending on the type of worker taking the HAZWOPER training, there are different minimum requirements that must be fulfilled during initial training. Examples of worker groups and their corresponding training hours include:
- General site workers: Minimum of 40 hours of off-site training and three days of experience in the field.
- Occasional on-site workers or site workers not likely to be exposed to hazardous materials: Minimum of 24 off-site training hours plus one day of field experience.
- Managers and supervisors: 40 hours of initial training, three days of supervised experience in the field, and at least eight hours of specialized training.