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Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Training

OSHA HAZWOPER training is required for five specific groups of workers who respond to the uncontrolled release of hazardous substances. The course you need depends on your job function, responsibilities and previous level of training.

40-Hour HAZWOPER

Laborers and other general site workers must complete 40 hours of HAZWOPER training. This course teaches key policies, practices and procedures that protect workers from harmful exposures to hazardous substances.

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24-Hour HAZWOPER

Workers who are less likely to encounter hazardous substances above permissible exposure limits require 24 hours of HAZWOPER training. This course is appropriate for those who only occasionally work at HAZWOPER sites.

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8-Hour HAZWOPER

The 8-Hour HAZWOPER course satisfies OSHA requirements for annual refresher training. This training on HAZWOPER standards is required each year for workers who previously completed a 40-hour or 24-hour HAZWOPER course.

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About HAZWOPER Training

HAZWOPER training provides vital safety and health information to workers who perform cleanup, emergency response or corrective actions involving the uncontrolled release of hazardous substances.

This includes work related to hazardous chemical leaks, chemical fires and site preparation that uncovers buried hazardous waste.

Employees at high risk of exposure must complete 40 hours of HAZWOPER training, while those at lower risk require 24 hours of training. Both types of workers must complete eight hours of HAZWOPER refresher training each year.

One of the greatest benefits of completing HAZWOPER training online is that you can log into the course anytime and work at your own pace.

HAZWOPER course features include:

  • Audio narration
  • Interactive exercises
  • Real-world learning examples
  • 24/7 live support

If you have questions throughout your training, you can email a qualified course instructor and get a response within 24 hours. Students typically get an answer after a few hours.

While you can complete the majority of your HAZWOPER training online, OSHA also requires additional hands-on training supervised by a qualified instructor. Graduates of the 40-hour course need at least three days of actual field experience, and graduates of the 24-hour course need a minimum of one day of field experience.

This requirement ensures workers learn about site-specific hazards and get first-hand experience using personal protective equipment (PPE) in a safe environment. Your employer can explain your required number of in-person training hours and how to complete them.

Who Needs HAZWOPER Training?

HAZWOPER training applies to workers and employers involved in five specific types of operations outlined in OSHA's HAZWOPER standard:

  • Cleanup operations required by a governmental body (federal, state, local or other) involving hazardous substances and conducted at an uncontrolled hazardous waste site
  • Corrective actions involving cleanup operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Hazardous waste operations conducted at treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities regulated under RCRA
  • Operations at non-TSD facilities that generate hazardous waste
  • Emergency response operations involving the release of or substantial threat of release of hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazards

This list includes workers who may be exposed to hazardous substances while performing operations at Brownfield sites, Superfund sites, EPA National Priorities List (NPL) sites, abandoned industrial sites and similar locations.

Which HAZWOPER Course Do I Need?

The training you need depends on your job role, work responsibilities and your risk for harmful exposures. Most workers who are new to operations involving hazardous waste or emergency response actions are required to complete the 40-Hour HAZWOPER training course.

For workers who spend a limited amount of time at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, or those whose work will not expose them to dangerous levels of hazardous substances, 24-Hour HAZWOPER training is adequate.

The 8-Hour HAZWOPER training program is appropriate for workers who completed 40-Hour or 24-Hour HAZWOPER training and need to meet OSHA's annual requirement for eight hours of HAZWOPER refresher training.

Types of Workers Who Need HAZWOPER Training

OSHA HAZWOPER standards apply to a variety of job functions involving hazardous substance removal or other activities that may expose workers to serious health hazards.

Job roles that require 40-Hour HAZWOPER training may include:

  • Equipment operators
  • General laborers
  • Supervisory personnel
  • Other general site workers
  • On-site management and supervisors

Workers who take the 40-hour online HAZWOPER course must also complete at least three days of field experience under the direct supervision of a trained and experienced supervisor. Those with management and supervisor-level roles must take at least eight additional hours of specialized training at the time of job assignment.

24-Hour HAZWOPER training is required for workers who are on site occasionally to perform specific limited tasks. These workers include:

  • Hazardous materials technicians
  • Hazardous materials specialists
  • On-scene incident commanders
  • Management and supervisors

Some examples of limited tasks these workers perform include:

  • Ground water monitoring
  • Land surveying
  • Geophysical surveying
  • Other specific limited tasks

24-Hour HAZWOPER training also applies to workers who regularly work in monitored areas where the level of hazardous substances does not exceed permissible exposure limits. Students of this course must complete at least one day of field experience under the direct supervision of a trained and experienced supervisor.

Workers who have taken 40- or 24-Hour HAZWOPER training must also complete at least eight hours of refresher training each year to maintain their knowledge of HAZWOPER safety standards. This requirement can be satisfied with the 8-Hour HAZWOPER refresher course.

HAZWOPER Course Topics

HAZWOPER training covers a wide range of safety and health topics relevant to hazardous waste operations. You'll learn how to reduce the risk of injury and illness that can result from exposures to hazardous substances.

Some of the subjects you'll learn about include:

  • Types of worksite hazards
  • Detecting hazardous materials
  • Site emergencies
  • Toxicology
  • Drums and containers
  • Levels of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Site safety planning and decontamination plans
  • Fire protection and prevention
  • Materials handling
  • Respirators and Personal Protective Equipment

The 40-hour course provides the most in-depth education on HAZWOPER-related safety topics. The 24-hour course and 8-hour refresher cover topics relevant to workers at a lower risk for exposure and those who have already completed HAZWOPER training.

Which Substances Qualify as Hazardous?

According OSHA's HAZWOPER standard, hazardous substances include hazardous waste and other substances that can cause adverse effects to your safety and health.

More specifically, they include:

  • Substances defined under section 101(14) of CERCLA
  • Biologic and disease-causing agents
  • Hazardous substances the U.S. Department of Transportation lists under 49 CFR 172.101
  • Wastes or combinations of wastes defined in 40 CFR 261.3
  • Substances defined as hazardous wastes in 49 CFR 171.8

Additional information about HAZWOPER training requirements are outlined in OSHA Standard 29 CFR Part 1910.120.