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Seven HAZWOPER Training Categories and Response Capabilities

Posted on Mon, Jan 23, 2012

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.

HAZWOPER training guide


Tags: Emergency Response, OSHA HAZWOPER, Incident Management, Training and Exercises, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Disaster Response, HAZWOPER, OSHA HAZWOPER standard training

Identifying Sensitive Environments in the Path of an Oil Spill

Posted on Mon, Oct 17, 2011

While oil spills can effect the immediate area, migrating spills that extend beyond its containment measures can greatly affect the surrounding areas and possibly damage sensitive environments. A critical step in protecting sensitive resources is identifying the presence and types of resources that are in the likely path of an oil spill.

Analyzing possible spill trajectories through topographical features, wind speeds, and water flow rates allows planners to identify which areas are most likely to be impacted by a spill.  Once these resources have been identified, decisions need to be made as to the proper protection techniques for each locale and the priority for application of resources to each sensitive site.

Sensitive_Environments_TRP.jpgTypes of sensitive areas to evaluate include, but are not limited to:

  • Ecological: Examples of sensitive species include shore birds and other water fowl, seals and other marine mammals, shellfish, commercially important wildlife, and species with limited distribution or populations. Sensitive habitats range from protected bays with marshes and tidal flats to open coast areas used as marine mammal or bird breeding sites.
  • Cultural: Areas of direct importance to humans including, but not limited to native lands, historical land marks, waterfront parks, and recreational areas.
  • Economical: Populated areas that are highly valued because of their ability to generate income. Area’s include tourist sites, real estate developments, urban developments, marinas, parks and other locations.
  • Specific sensitive resources: Specific resources that are only available at that particular location, such as specialized suppliers, water sources, transportation systems, food sources.

Once the sensitive areas in the path of a potential oil spill are identified, tactical plans and processes should be developed to limit the duration of impact. Tactical planning provide site-specific focus to emergency response plans, and applies a response perspective with specific, short-term actions and responses. These plans provide details that allow responders to best access, assess, and quickly respond to off-site spills, limiting the effects of a spill on sensitive environments.


Be prepared! Receive a Incident Preparedness Guide!

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: USCG, Pipeline, OSHA HAZWOPER, Emergency Preparedness, SPCC, OPA 90, Oil Spill, Emergency Management Program, HAZWOPER

The Responsibility of Oil Spill Response: The Qualified Individual

Posted on Mon, May 02, 2011

According to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), all facility response plans must identify a “Qualified Individual” (QI)  and at least one alternate who meet the requirements outlined in 33 CFR Sec. 154.1026.

The QI is required to be an English-speaking facility representative, available on a 24-hour basis, who is familiar with the implementation of the facility response plan and trained in the responsibilities outlined below.

  • Activation of internal alarm(s) and hazard communication systems
  • Notification of all response personnel and contractors (as needed)
  • Identification of the character, exact source, amount, and extent of the release and other necessary items needed for notifications
  • The ability to act as liaison between appropriate federal, state and local authorities through notification and information sharing
  • Assessing the interaction(s) of the spilled substance with water and/or other substances stored at the facility and notify on-scene response personnel of assessmentsunsettrp.jpg
  • Assess possible hazards to human health and the environment
  • Assess and implement prompt removal actions
  • Coordinate rescue and response actions
  • Access company funds to initiate clean-up activities
  • Direct cleanup activities until properly relieved of the responsibility or until the incident is terminated

Training and preparedness is necessary in order to an effective response in the event of an oil spill or other emergency. QI(s) should take the lead to ensure that response plans, training, and exercise programs are effective and that all required personnel  are engaged in this effort.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: OSHA HAZWOPER, Emergency Preparedness, Oil Spill

OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and Emergency Training

Posted on Thu, Apr 14, 2011

NOTE: The Hazard Communication Standard, including Safety Data Sheets (SDS) format, has been updated. See TRP's "Phased Compliance of the Hazard Communication Standard..." blog. 


The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) both have regulations focused on safety for transportation of hazardous materials. 

In 1986, OSHA initiated the Hazard Communication Standard - 29 CFR1910.1200. The purpose of this regulation is to communicate information to employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. As a result of this standard, each container of hazardous chemicals must:

  • Be labeled, tagged or marked with the identity of the hazardous chemical
  • Contain an appropriate hazard warning
  • Identify the name and address of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.

Based on the information on the label, the chemical manufacturer or other responsible party should be able to be contacted to determine emergency control measures and to estimate worst-case exposures.

According to OSHA, a MSDS must accompany each initial shipment of hazardous chemical and be readily accessible to employees handling the chemical. Since DOT requires truck drivers to carry MSDS information with the bill of lading for all shipments of hazardous cargo, which satisfies both agency requirements. Additionally, DOT requires transported hazardous materials to contain proper labeling in compliance with 49 CFR 172.302.

If the potential exists for an emergency situation to develop, training must be provided as described in 29 CFR 1910.1200. Training includes, but is not limited to:

  • Applicable leak and spill cleanup procedures
  • Appropriate PPE usage
  • Decontamination procedures and safety precautions

If an emergency response may be required for transported hazardous materials, emergency response plans must be developed and implemented and the provisions of OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard - 29 CFR 1910.120 apply.

When organizations opt to respond to emergencies with company personnel, a sufficient number of trained personnel must be available. In most cases, this is not the truck driver. However, the training required under 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6) depends on the duties and functions to be performed by the truck driver. If truck drivers are expected to stop leaks involving hazardous materials and clean up potential spills, then a minimum of technician or specialist level training is required.

On March 10, 2011, the Department of Transportation announced a proposed rule to improve the safety of transferring hazardous materials to and from cargo tank motor vehicles. The notice proposes to add the following requirements:

  • Practice drills and classroom training of truck drivers and other workers who unload or load hazardous material
  • Training on automatic valve shut systems
  • Developing inspection and maintenance programs to ensure the safety of hoses, valves and other equipment used in loading and unloading.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises


Tags: PHMSA, OSHA HAZWOPER, DOT, Emergency Preparedness, Regulatory Compliance

Emergency Planning for Decontamination

Posted on Fri, Feb 04, 2011

Response to a hazardous material release must involve decontamination planning. Below are basic decontamination procedures to consider.

Area Designations are as follows:
  • Cold Zone or Safe area
  • Warm or Contamination Reduction Zone
  • Hot Zone

When responders exit the Hot Zone, they must be decontaminated in order to ensure the safety of those they encounter. Decontamination is performed in the Warm Zone, or contamination reduction zone. Minimum measures for decontamination should include the following seven steps:

1. Equipment Drop- Deposit equipment used on site (tools, sampling devices and containers, monitoring instruments, radios, clipboards, etc.) on specified drop cloths. Segregation at the drop reduces the probability of cross contamination. During hot weather operations, a cool down station may be set up within this area.

2. Outer Garment – Scrub outer boots, outer gloves, and splash suit with decontamination solution or detergent and water and rinse.

3. Outer Boots and Gloves Drop - Remove outer boots and gloves. Deposit in container with plastic liner.

4. Canister or Mask Change - If worker leaves exclusion zone to change canister (or mask) or this is the last step in the decontamination procedures; worker's canister is exchanged, new outer gloves and boot covers are donned, joints are taped, the worker returns to duty.

5. Inner Boot, Glove and Outer Garment Removal - Boots, chemical-resistant splash suit, inner gloves removed and deposited in separate containers lined with plastic.

6. Face Piece Removal – Face piece is removed. Avoid touching face with fingers. Face piece deposited on plastic sheet.

7. Field Wash- Hands and face are thoroughly washed. Shower as soon as possible.

Each zone should be fully identified by signs, barrier tape, or other means and all responding personnel should understand these procedures prior to entering the scene.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: PHMSA, OSHA HAZWOPER, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Management Program, Chemical Industry

The Misinterpretations of HAZWOPER Response Capabilities

Posted on Fri, Aug 13, 2010

Numerous organizations have emergency response policies in place based on misinterpretation of the HAZWOPER regulations. The purpose of the initial responder (operations level) of an emergency is to protect life, property, or the environment from the effects of the release, not stop the release.

Operational responders are trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to terminate the release. Their function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading, and prevent exposures.

Employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, are required to be HAZWOPER certified.  According to OSHA, first responders at the operations level are those individuals who respond to releases, or potential releases, of hazardous substances as part of the initial response to the site.

Any employee or contractor, upon discovering a significant event or condition that requires urgent response from outside trained personnel, should take the suggested initial response actions listed below and report the emergency to the designated onsite Emergency Dispatch Center to render additional response.

Initial Response Actions:

  • Discovery of an emergency situation.
  • Warn others in the immediate area by word of mouth and activate local alarms.
  • Take immediate personal protective measures (PPE, move to safe location, etc.).
  • Report the emergency to Security.
  • Implement local response actions (process shutdowns, activate fire protection systems, etc.) if safe to do so, and consistent with level of training and area specific procedures.

A response effort by trained emergency personnel from outside the immediate area, or by other designated responders (i.e., mutual aid groups, local fire departments, etc.), would then go into effect. An event that requires outside emergency assistance can be, but is not limited to, an uncontrolled release of a hazardous material, fire, explosion, and serious injury or illness to personnel where there is a potential risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens.

Below are examples of classification levels and potential responses.

LEVEL ONE Classification: Minor Incident

  • Minor threat to life, property, or environment DOES NOT extend outside of immediate area.
  • No spill/release or fire in progress, no potential for explosion or loss of control.
  • Area Supervisor and Unit personnel can effectively manage situation.


  • On-Scene Incident Commander and Emergency Response Team assistance limited to routine medical response, advice, assessment, and post-incident support/cleanup activities.
  • External assistance limited to routine medical transport and/or law enforcement assistance.
  • Notifications as required.

LEVEL TWO Classification: Serious Incident

  • Serious threat to life, property, or environment may extend outside of immediate area, but DOES NOT extend Off-Site.
  • Protective actions required for unit and/or nearby areas.
  • Rescue or medical response - Serious injuries reported or possible.


  • On-Scene Incident Commander and Emergency Response Team respond or on stand-by.
  • External assistance at discretion of On-Scene IC.
  • Emergency Operation Center will be activated.

 LEVEL THREE Classification: Significant Incident

  •  Significant threat to life, property, or environment extending or with POTENTIAL to extend Off-Site.
  • Protective actions required for nearby units/areas, and/or off-site communities.
  • Potential for significant impact to company reputation, operability, or revenues.


  • On-Scene Incident Commander and Emergency Response Team respond.
  • External coordination and/or assistance is required.
  • An Emergency Command Center is activated.
  • Corporate Crisis notification at discretion of Emergency Operations Center Director

In conclusion, operational responders are trained for defensive reactions, not to terminate the release. Their main function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading and creating exponential incidences, and prevent exposures.

For more tips and best practices on conducting an effective oil spill, download our Free Best Practices for Oil Spill Exercises

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OSHA's HAZWOPER Operational Training for Fire Department

Posted on Wed, Jun 16, 2010


HAZWOPER operational training sessions and response exercises provide fire department personnel with useful, practical information designed to improve response capabilities when dealing with hazardous materials.

According to OSHA, first responders at the operations level are individuals who respond to releases, or potential releases, of hazardous substances as part of the initial response to the site. The purpose of the first responder at the operational level is to protect life, property, or the environment from the effects of the release.

Operation mode firefighters are trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to stop the release. Their function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading, and prevent exposures.

First responders at the operational level shall have received at least eight hours of training, or have had sufficient experience to objectively demonstrate competency in the following areas:
  • Knowledge of the basic hazard and risk assessment techniques.
  • Know how to select and use proper personal protective equipment provided to the first responder operational level.
  • An understanding of basic hazardous materials terms.
  • Know how to perform basic control, containment and/or confinement operations within the capabilities of the resources and personal protective equipment available with their unit.
  • Know how to implement basic decontamination procedures
  • An understanding of the relevant standard operating procedures and termination procedures.


For more tips and best practices on HAZWOPER Training, download our HAZWOPER training guide



Tags: Fire Department Training, OSHA HAZWOPER

OSHA's HAZWOPER standard training... Who needs it?

Posted on Thu, Jun 10, 2010

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard -Online Training applies to specific groups of employers and their employees. Employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, are required to obtain HAZWOPER training. 

OHSA mandates that those who work in the following areas must complete the standard HAZWOPER training.

  • General site workers (such as equipment operators, general laborers and supervisory personnel) engaged in hazardous substance removal or other activities, which expose or potentially expose workers to hazardous substances and health.
  • Operations crews involved in hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by 40 CFR Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA; or by agencies under agreement with U.S.E.P.A. to implement RCRA regulations.
  • Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.Training levels

Courses should be selected based upon the type of work and the potential hazard involved in the work. 

  • Those individuals directly involved in the cleaning up of hazardous materials, its storage, or its transportation should take the 40-hour HAZWOPER course. The 40 hour course is required for the safety of workers at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Other, shorter courses such as the 24-hour HAZWOPER training may be appropriate for those who are less directly involved with uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (such as, but not limited to, ground water monitoring, land surveying, or geophysical surveying). .
  • Managers are required to attain the same level of training as those they supervise, and an additional 8 hours.

There are numerous sources for OSHA-based HAZWOPER training, from community colleges to private consultants.  However, companies must insure that the trainer teaches the required material and provides certification to the student. The certification is assigned to the employee, not the employer.  Because of this, individuals must receive the full training mandated, not just those areas that are covered at the current work site.


For more tips and best practices on HAZWOPER Training, download our HAZWOPER training guide



Tags: OSHA HAZWOPER, HAZWOPER, OSHA HAZWOPER standard training, Fire Department HAZWOPER training