September 2011- HAZWOPER




What is HAZWOPER?

HAZWOPER is an acronym for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. It refers to five types of hazardous waste operations conducted in the United States under OSHA Standard 1910.120 "Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response." The standard contains the safety requirements employers must meet in order to conduct these operations.



What is the purpose of the HAZWOPER standard?

The purpose of HAZWOPER is to improve the ability of employees and employers to respond to emergencies caused by releases of hazardous substances.



What is the definition of hazardous waste as it applies to this standard?

Hazardous waste refers to discarded substances in solid, liquid, or gaseous form that can harm humans, other living organisms, or the environment (This is a plain-language definition of hazardous waste. You’ll find formal definitions in Environmental Protection Agency rules 40 CFR 261.3 and 49 CFR 171.8).

OSHA adopted the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard
in 1990, following federal regulations controlling the impact of hazardous waste
on the environment.



What 5 specific areas of operations does the HAZWOPER standard cover?

HAZWOPER covers the following areas of operations:

  1. 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 (including, but not limited to, the EPA's National Priorities List of sites (NPL), state priority site lists, sites recommended for the EPA NPL, and initial investigations of government identified sites which are conducted before the presence or absence of hazardous substances has been ascertained); 
  2. 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); 
  3. Voluntary clean-up operations at sites recognized by Federal, state, local or other governmental bodies as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites; 
  4. Operations involving hazardous waste that are conducted at treatment, storage, disposal (TSD) 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; and 
  5. Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard.




What levels of training are required under the HAZWOPER standard?

OSHA recognizes several levels of training, based on the work the employee will be performing and the level of hazard they will be facing. Each level requires a different training program, and OSHA specifies topics and minimum training times.


  1. General site workers initially require 40 hours of instruction, 3 days of supervised hands on training, and 8 hours of refresher training annually 
  2. Workers limited to a specific task or workers on fully characterized sites with no hazards above acceptable levels require 24 hours of initial training, 1 day supervised hands on training, and 8 hours of refresher training annually 
  3. Managers and supervisors require the same level of training as the people they supervise, plus 8 additional hours of training 
  4. Workers who are working at a Treatment, Storage, or Disposal facility that handles RCRA wastes require 24 hours of initial training and 8 hours of refresher training annually 
  5. First Responder Awareness level require sufficient training to demonstrate competency in their assigned duties 
  6. First Responder Operations level Awareness level training plus 8 hours training 
  7. Hazardous Materials Technician 24 hours training plus additional training to achieve competency in several areas 
  8. Hazardous Materials Specialist 24 hours training at the technician level, plus additional training to achieve competency in several areas 
  9. On Scene Incident commander 24 hours training plus additional training to achieve competency in several areas 

The training is what makes HAZWOPER unique. In some instances the training levels may or may not overlap in other cases these are prohibited by OSHA because workers without specific training may be able to characterize waste unless trained to do that task. The Site Safety Supervisor or Officer should be consulted and a competent industrial hygienist or other technically qualified person who is HAZWOPER trained.



Where can I find more information about OSHA’s HAZWOPER standard?

OSHA’s HAZWOPER standard

Safety and Health Topics: Hazardous Waste

HAZWOPER FAQ’s 

OSHA Fact Sheet


Disclaimer: These Regulatory Reminders are not intended to be an exhaustive source for all of your particular facility’s compliance issues. They are designed to address the basics requirements with which most companies are required to comply. Following the Regulatory Reminder’s deadlines and Monthly Focus will not guarantee your compliance as these reminders are simply designed to help in your environmental/safety compliance efforts. You should always refer to the federal and your state’s regulations for all your requirements. Ultimately, your compliance with federal and state regulations is your responsibility. E&SSG assumes no liability for your compliance or the resources provided in these “Reminders”.