Hazardous materials, are common in many facilities and job sites. With the increasing complexity and sophistication of modern industrial processes, the use hazardous materials, such as chemicals, solvents and rare metals, are also rising. The wastes produced by these industries are equally hazardous, if not more so.
It is important for employees to know how to recognize these potentially dangerous substances, how to handle them safely, and how to dispose of them properly.
In 1976, the EPA created the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to regulate the handling of hazardous waste.
In 1986, OSHA was given the task of protecting employees who deal with hazardous material and waste (HAZMAT workers). In 1990, OSHA formalized the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard.
The HAZWOPER regulations specify varying requirements for employee training depending on the employee’s level of involvement with hazardous materials. As outlined in OSHA FAQs, these levels include
- clean-up operations — required by a governmental body, whether federal, state, local, or other involving hazardous substances — that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;
- corrective actions involving clean-up operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.);
- voluntary clean-up operations at sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;
- operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations; and
- emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.
The “HAZWOPER Series” of training programs provides employees with information the regulation requires them to have. By combining various programs in the series, training packages can be configured to help meet all of the OSHA HAZWOPER training requirements.
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