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Which HAZWOPER Training Do You Need?

Editorial Team July 23, 2019 Comments Off on Which HAZWOPER Training Do You Need?
Which HAZWOPER Training Do You Need?

HAZWOPER training can be incredibly confusing.

Other training standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have authorized providers and well-defined requirements.  But when it comes to HAZWOPER (HAZardous Waste OPerations and Emergency Response), the who, what, and where are clear as mud.

If you’ve been told you need HAZWOPER training, you might be unsure what to take and where.  But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Why is HAZWOPER Training Necessary?

As a society, we produce and use a lot of hazardous substances, from spent nuclear fuel rods to the heavy metals in the electronic device you’re using to read this right now.  When they’re no longer useful, these materials have to be disposed of carefully to protect the health of the general public.

But that puts the workers in charge of cleanup and disposal at risk. HAZWOPER standards were created to reduce those risks.  The standards require training so that workers understand the dangers they face on the job and how to protect themselves.

HAZWOPER regulations apply to three relatively narrow job profiles. However, HAZWOPER training is designed for workers (and their supervisors) who face any of the following hazardous work conditions:

  • High concentrations of toxic substances
  • Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) environments
  • Conditions that pose a fire or explosion hazard
  • Oxygen-deficient atmospheres

If that’s you, HAZWOPER training can teach you how to recognize and reduce the danger to yourself and others in the workplace.

So, which HAZWOPER course should you enroll in? Well, the training you need is based on the degree of exposure you’ll experience. There are three different courses: 24-Hour, 40-Hour, and an 8-Hour refresher. Each of which we will review in more detail below.

24-Hour HAZWOPER Training

Who Should Take It?

The 24-Hour course is the initial training for workers who will have minimal contact with hazardous materials.

Workers need this course if they will:

  • Come into contact with hazardous materials occasionally but not be directly be involved in the cleanup
  • Work at contaminated sites with exposure below Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)
  • Carry out remediation at fully characterized sites where they’ll need respirators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for less than 30 days a year.
  • Supervise employees who do any of the above, but not employees that need the 40-Hour course

How Long is It?

This level requires 24 instructional hours, followed by one day of directly supervised fieldwork. Instructional time doesn’t include break or testing time.

What Topics are Covered?

It covers topics like:

  • Overview of Regulations
  • Site Characterization
  • Toxicology
  • Hazard Recognition
  • Hazardous Chemical Awareness
  • Radiological Hazards
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Written Safety and Health Program
  • Site Control
  • Decontamination
  • Medical Surveillance
  • Air Monitoring
  • Confined Spaces
  • Emergency Procedures

How Do You Pass?

After completing all of the instruction time, you’ll take a final exam.  You need a 70% or higher to pass the course and earn your certificate of completion.  You’ll have three tries to pass the test.

Your performance will be assessed during fieldwork, and it’s ultimately up to your employer to decide when you’ve completed your training to their satisfaction.

40-Hour HAZWOPER Training

Who Should Take It?

The 40-Hour course is the required initial training for workers with the highest risk.

Workers need this course if they will:

  • Work with and clean up hazardous materials regularly
  • Be involved in the storage and treatment of hazardous substances
  • Have exposure at or above PELs
  • Work in environments where they need respirators and other PPEs for more than 30 days a year
  • Supervise employees who do any of the above

How Long is It?

This level requires 40 instructional hours, followed by three days of directly supervised fieldwork.

What Topics are Covered?

It covers everything in the 24-hour course, PLUS:

  • Material Sampling
  • Safe Work Practices
  • Personal Sampling
  • Excavations
  • Fire Protection
  • Bloodborne Pathogens: Intro
  • Bloodborne Pathogens: Control and Compliance
  • Bloodborne Pathogens: Understanding Hepatitis B
  • Bloodborne Pathogens: Communication and Training
  • Bloodborne Pathogens: Revisions and Additions to OSHA Standards

How Do You Pass?

After completing all of the instruction time, you’ll take a final exam.  You need a 70% or higher to pass the course and earn your certificate of completion.  You’ll have three tries to pass the test.

Your performance will be assessed during fieldwork, and it’s ultimately up to your employer to decide when you’ve completed your training to their satisfaction.

8-Hour HAZWOPER Training

The 8-Hour course is a refresher for both 24-Hour and 40-Hour courses.

How Often is it Required?

HAZWOPER employees need refresher training once a year.

This course doesn’t necessarily need to be completed in a short timeframe.  Topics can be divided up throughout the year as long as all hours are complete before your anniversary.

If more than a year lapses without a complete refresher course, you may need to repeat your initial course.  OSHA has written a letter of interpretation putting that decision in the employer’s hands.  If employers think a lapsed employee has the necessary skills to do their job safely, they can take refresher training. If not, they should repeat the initial course.  OSHA says that the decision can’t be made by the employee or the trainer, only the employer.

What Topics are Covered?

The refresher course covers many of the same topics as 24-Hour, but less in-depth:

  • Overview of Regulations
  • Site Characterization
  • Toxicology
  • Hazard Recognition
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Decontamination
  • Medical Surveillance
  • Confined Spaces
  • Emergency Procedures

Bottom Line

HAZWOPER training is critical to your health and safety if your job includes emergency response, cleanup, or disposal of hazardous materials.  Now that you’ve figured out which level of training you need, the next step is finding a trustworthy training provider.  We’ve got you covered there too!  We have 15 years of experience helping you meet OSHA compliance.  You can register for online instruction today and knock out the long hours of “book learning” in comfort.

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