4 Things to Know About the HAZWOPER Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has come up with a safety standard that applies to employers and employees who are or might be exposed to hazardous waste during operations. Named the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response or HAWOPER Standard, it specifically covers five distinct groups of employers and employees that deal with handling, treatment, and cleanup of hazardous waste.

To be able to legally work with any hazardous substances and wastes (which are defined by OSHA), one must be HAZWOPER-certified. But what exactly is the HAZWOPER training? Here are some facts on it:

1. On-site workers are required to be HAZWOPER-trained, especially when there is a chance for exposure to hazardous waste.
Granted, not all employees deal with hazardous waste treatment. However, emergency situations may arise that would make it necessary for workers to have undergone proper HAZWOPER training in order to be allowed to continue being on-site, as per OSHA standards. Employees with less training as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) may be allowed back on-site again once the contamination is cleared or there is minimum threat.

2. The HAZWOPER training is offered in 3 courses.
a. 40-hour training
This is the most intensive training course. Employees who work on site and are exposed or have a high risk of exposure to hazardous substances, as well as those involved in hazardous waste cleanup and remediation are required to undergo 40 hours of HAZWOPER training.
b. 24-hour training
The 24-hour class is required to be completed by those whose jobs do not require them to be on site regularly, but still has them do occasional visits and inspections, particularly for hazardous waste cleanup sites. Supervisors and managers often fall into this training level.
c. 8-hour training
This is a refresher class, and is required to be completed annually after the initial HAZWOPER training.

3. The 8-Hour Annual Refresher Course May be Taken in Segments.
Not a lot of workers may know, but the 8-hour refresher course that needs to be taken annually can be broken into segments, provided that the course is completed before the one-year anniversary of the employee’s previous refresher or initial HAZWOPER certification training. Workers who fail to comply with the necessary hours within the 12-month period should have their reasons for delay filed in their records, and are required to attend the next possible training schedule.

4. HAZWOPER training exemptions are possible.
Employees who are not expected to get involved in emergency response or hazardous waste cleanup may be provided exemption by OSHA. Additionally, companies can be exempted from the training provided that they are:
a. Large Quantity Generators (LQGs), and
b. Have a spill response contingency plan that makes it mandatory for employees to evacuate the company premises in case of emergencies or accidental spills.
This should be followed by the company contacting the spill response company to attend to the spill’s containment and remediation.

The HAZWOPER standard is just one of a number of regulations that the OSHA has set in place in order to protect the life and health of all workers. Following OSHA standards is also good for business, as it would mean less payments on penalties and potential settlements.

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