Employees who may respond to hazardous material emergencies are required by OSHA to have HAZWOPER training. HAZWOPER, short for the OSHA initiated Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard, communicates the required training associated with operations and potential spills or releases. The intent of the HAZWOPER standard is to protect workers engaged in "Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard." (29 CFR 1910.120(a)(1)(v)).
Paragraph (q) of HAZWOPER lists seven emergency responder training categories that require training under the regulation.
1. Skilled support personnel (q)(4):
- Personnel, not necessarily an employer's own employees, who may temporarily perform immediate emergency support work that cannot reasonably be performed in a timely fashion by an employer's own employees
- Contracted or temporary personnel who will be or may be exposed to the hazards at an emergency response scene
- Require an initial briefing at the site prior to their participation in any emergency response to include:
- Instruction in the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment
- Chemical hazards involved
- Duties are to be performed
- All other appropriate safety and health precautions provided to the employer's own employees shall be used to assure the safety and health of these personnel.
2. Specialist employees (q)(5):
- Regular job duties include working with and are trained in the hazards of specific hazardous substances
- May be called upon to provide technical advice or assistance at a hazardous substance release incident to the individual in charge
- Receives trainingor demonstrate competency in the area of their specialization annually.
3. First responder awareness level (q)(6):
- Individuals likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release
- Trained to initiate an emergency response sequence by notifying the proper authorities of the release. They would take no further action beyond notifying the authorities of the release.
4. First responder operations level (q)(6):
- Individuals who respond to releases or potential releases of hazardous substances as part of the initial response to the site for the purpose of protecting nearby persons, property, or the environment from the effects of the release.
- Trained to respond defensively from a safe distance to minimize spreading and prevent exposures, without actually trying to stop the release.
5. HAZMAT technician (q)(6):
- Individuals who respond to releases or potential releases for the purpose of stopping the release.
- Trained to approach the point of release in order to plug, patch or otherwise stop the release of a hazardous substance.
6. HAZMAT specialist (q)(6):
- Individuals who respond with and provide support to hazardous materials technicians.
- Duties, which parallel those of the hazardous materials technician, require a more directed or specific knowledge of the various substances they may be called upon to contain.
- May act as site liaison with Federal, state, local and other government authorities in regards to site activities.
7. On-scene incident commander (q)(6):
- Individuals who will assume control of the incident scene beyond the first responder awareness level.
For a free guide that details the world of HAZWOPER training, download A Guide to HAZWOPER Training.