You may have heard about this training but not known what it is or even what the word HAZWOPER stands for. Let’s address the basics first and then dive into the details. HAZWOPER stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard. This standard was enacted by OSHA in 1990. The standard was meant to protect workers that are involved in the initial stages of a chemical release emergency, the clean-up after the emergency has been stabilized, as well as the clean-up of chemical contamination from the country’s past industrial legacy. The HAZWOPER standard grew out of the Department of Defense’s existing standards, plus added input from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard. This is a general standard for chemical response standards and is not for specific responses for specific chemicals or scenarios.
Who Needs HAZWOPER Training
HAZWOPER training is meant to reduce the risks of chemical exposure to workers employed in one of three very specific activities. These are uncontrolled hazardous waste site operators; treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF) personnel; and emergency responders. In general terms, HAZWOPER training is needed if workers are to be:
Exposed to high concentrations of poisonous substances
Exposed to chemical conditions that pose a fire or explosion hazard
Entering sites with atmospheres at or above IDLH levels
Exposed to oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5% oxygen)
Leading evacuations due to chemical atmospheres or oxygen-deficient conditions
Performing confined space entry
Supervising workers exposed to any of the above dangers
24 Hour HAZWOPER Training
There are two levels of HAZWOPER training, 24-hour training, and 40-hour training. Additionally, there is an 8-hour refresher course for recertifying every 12 months once you have your 24 or 40-hour training. The 24-hour training, which is more common than the 40-hour training, will allow you to accomplish tasks such as identifying hazardous materials, identifying principles of toxicology, describing the medical concerns regarding confined spaces, and describing considerations in various emergency situations. The 24-hour HAZWOPER course is primarily for individuals who will occasionally come in contact with hazardous materials and not be involved in the cleanup operations. This type of training covers broad issues regarding cleanup and identification of hazardous materials. Considering that a single mistake regarding hazardous substances can have disastrous results, it’s imperative to receive the best training possible.