Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, commonly called HAZWOPER, generally refers to the act of handling, packaging, storing, and transporting hazardous materials.
Hazmat (hazardous materials) refers to the hazardous materials themselves. These materials are any substance that may cause harm to the environment or to human life upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation (OSHA).
Exposure to hazardous materials can cause a variety of health and safety risks, including chemical burns, fires, explosions, and other toxic effects that may lead to death. Therefore, HAZWOPER training is required for any worker who is involved in:
Additionally, HAZWOPER training is intended for:
The HAZWOPER standard applies to many different types of employers and their employees. Because there are so many employers, job sites, and covered employees, OSHA has created five groups based on similar worksite characteristics:
The employees must be trained on their responsibilities under the HAZWOPER standard for each of these groups. Different levels of training apply to different employees depending on their specific job responsibilities. And for this reason, there are different HAZWOPER training. There are 8, 24, and 40-hour training for the HAZWOPER standard.
The 40-hour HAZWOPER training course is generally designed for working employees who are new to uncontrolled hazardous waste or emergency response operations. It includes workers such as:
The 24-hour HAZWOPER training is more appropriate for working employees who are unlikely to experience high-risk exposure hazards at uncontrolled hazardous waste operations.
HAZWOPER training expires every twelve months. Workers who have met their initial HAZWOPER training requirements must take the 8-hour refresher course each year to refresh their safety knowledge. The 8-hour course is designed to meet OSHA’s annual training requirement for hazardous waste operations and emergency response workers.
It is important to note that employers are the ones who ultimately decide what training their employees are required to take for their job tasks. They are also the ones who can decide if an employee is able to take the 8-hour refresher course or retake the 24 or 40-hour course at the end of the twelve months when their initial training expires.
HAZWOPER specifically addresses how to safely handle hazardous materials and how to properly clean up accidental releases of hazardous substances. But there are also other important operations involved in HAZWOPER training.
The 40-hour training contains a very detailed and in-depth look at HAZWOPER operations along with other important safety topics that are important to know in regards to handling hazardous substances. Some of the topics that are covered by the 40-hour HAZWOPER training include:
The 24-hour HAZWOPER training is not nearly as in-depth as the 40-hour but covers the same necessary topics. The 8-hour training course is simply a refresher course. Because of that, it covers points of information that are general but vital to help keep employees safe. The training topics that are covered in the 8-hour HAZWOPER training are:
The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) require every hazmat employer to train, test, and certify every hazmat employee before their initial assignment. This includes any employees who are involved in hazmat handling, preparing, or responding to hazardous material leaks, spreads, spills, or incidents.
It is important to note that safety training is required regardless of the industry, type of job, or learning topic. Safety should be the number one priority in any work environment.
Hazardous material and dangerous goods training ensures the health and safety of workers, workplaces, properties, and the environment. Each hazard comes with its own side effects and damage potential which further the need for training.
Whether you are an employee who handles hazardous materials or an emergency responder who is responding to a hazardous material incident, hazmat training is required. Receiving the right kind of training and learning the necessary information saves lives.
Every facility is different in a variety of ways, whether that be due to their operations or the specific substances. Because of these many different factors, there are different levels of training and topics that are covered in the training.
Throughout the next couple of sections, we will discuss different factors for hazmat workers and for emergency responders who respond to hazardous material accidents.
According to OSHA, a hazmat employee is defined as “a person employed by a hazmat employer and who… loads, unloads, or handles hazardous materials.” This also includes anyone who comes into contact with them while performing actions such as:
There are multiple actions and tasks associated with hazardous materials, which makes hazmat training even more necessary. Some of the topics that every type of hazmat employee is required to learn are the different classes of hazardous materials and the different levels of protection that should be used depending on the substance.
There are nine different classes of hazardous material. Each class is a category of substances that were divided based on the physical qualities of the substance or material. Each of these nine classes is further broken down and organized into subcategories, but for the sake of this training, we will only be covering the general nine classes and their topics. These nine classes are as follows:
Level A protection level, uses full physical isolation combined with full body and respiratory protection. This could involve a vapor protection suit with positive pressure.
Positive pressure simply means that air is pumped into the suit so that the air will expel outwards in case of a puncture, which prevents infectious substances from entering the suit.
Level A protection also includes a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), chemical resistant gloves, chemical resistant safety boots, and a two-way radio communication system.
Level B protection is very similar to level A, except that a full-body suit provides splash protection but not protection against vapors.
Level C protection is the most commonly used protection level for most workers who work with hazardous materials in non-emergency situations (unlike emergency responders). During normal operations, hazardous materials levels are kept within the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) established by OSHA.
Level D protection is typical construction site gear. It includes coveralls, safety boots, glasses, and a hard hat.
Hazardous materials that are handled incorrectly or improperly transported, can pose a substantial risk to both human health and to the environment.
How effectively hazardous material-related incidents are managed and resolved, hinges on the knowledge, training, and skills of those responsible for responding to the accident.
Throughout the next section, we will examine the roles and responsibilities of the four hazmat response levels. The four levels are:
Each level requires a certain amount or specific type of training, which is why it is important to be able to recognize and understand these levels of response.
For responders working in awareness level roles, the chance of encountering the presence of hazardous materials is unlikely in their line of work.
In many cases, personnel at this level will be the first on the scene of a hazmat incident and specifically deal with the people rather than the substance. They are the ones responsible for taking charge of the initial protective actions which include:
Among the expected competencies of an awareness level responder are:
Responders working at the operations level are expected to do as much as possible to mitigate the incident without having to set foot inside the hot zone (the area that contains hazardous materials).
The responsibilities of operation level responders include:
Responders operating at this level are generally highly specialized hazmat personnel who take an offensive-action role when responding to incidents.
A hazmat technician's primary responsibilities include:
The specialist responder is the highest level of a responder for hazmat incidents, with an in-depth and highly advanced level of scientific knowledge.
In many cases, they may be required to provide a more observational role. In other cases, however, they may take a more hands-on approach by working alongside hazmat technicians in the hot zone.
Depending on the work being carried out as well as what an employee is involved in when handling hazardous substances or waste, choosing the correct course may be a difficult task. Sometimes, to complete all the diverse training that standards require, employees may have to take both the HAZWOPER training course and the hazmat (call us to request that this training be built at (208)252-5331) training courses. This will ensure that training covers a variety of safety topics that are associated with hazardous substances.