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A Better Understanding of HAZWOPER Training and Its Levels

Are you aware that over 400 million tons of hazardous waste are produced worldwide every year? Unfortunately, these tons are from industrialized countries.

Because of this, OSHA now requires personnel engaged in treating, cleaning up, or disposing of hazardous waste to adhere to HAZWOPER standards, whether it’s 24 or 40 hour HAZWOPER training.

This is one way to ensure compliance with the standards and to take specific course training based on the type of job and experience of a worker.

To know more about HAZWOPER training, here are its levels to understand fully.

HAZWOPER Levels of Training Explained

This hazardous waste training applies to employees and employers who are dealing with or are usually exposed to hazardous substances.

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This includes employees or businesses engaged in the storage, disposal, or cleaning up of substances or even those part of emergency response operations dealing with hazardous waste contamination and situations.

What are Examples of Substances and Situations that Require HAZWOPER Training?

  • Cleanup efforts and corrective actions at hazardous waste sites
  • Situations that pose a danger to the health or life environment
  • Risk of fire or explosion conditions
  • Sites and landfills for storage, treatment, or disposal of hazardous materials
  • Situations or activities that involve having high concentrations of toxic substances
  • Situations that require evacuating of area
  • Emergency response that involves potential or actual hazardous waste spills
  • Lacking Oxygen Atmosphere

What are the 5 Training Levels of HAZWOPER?

As established by OSHA 29 CRF 1910.120 (q), the HAZWOPER training requires five levels of emergency responders. The levels are related to the functions and activities of the responders in question and the expectation of the role.

1. Level 1 of HAZWOPER Training – First Responder Awareness Level

This level applies to responders who may be an initial observers of the hazardous substance release. Responders are usually on-site and work in lab or warehouse employees’ roles.

With that, employees should be trained on how to initiate emergency responses the right way. This will notify the right parties through the designated chain of communication. Such training covers:

  • Announcement on the facility
  • Triggering the alarm
  • Contacting 911
  • Alert security on-site
  • Enlist hazmat teams

The training sets the core and the foundation competencies that the further levels are built. They should be able to demonstrate awareness, recognize hazards, identify accurately, and understand the risks and possible outcomes in an emergency response plan.

2. Level 2 of HAZWOPER Training – First Responder Operations Level

This level is for the First Responder Operations or parties and individuals who respond to releasing a hazardous substance to preserve the assets like property or inventory. These responders are the ones who should protect both the environment and people.

This training is defensive. In fact, with prevention and containment of exposure and spread key goals. Employees on this level must complete the 8-hours minimum training or work experience equivalent.

The responsibilities include:

  • Closing of vents
  • Shutting off pumps
  • Covering the drains
  • Placement of absorptive substance to avoid spreading

3. Level 3 of HAZWOPER Training – Hazardous Materials Technician

This training is for those who are designated as emergency response technicians. They are responsible for attending to release or even the potential release.

Trainees are required to have a minimum training of 24 hours and demonstrate that they should:

  • Understand the behavior and terminologies
  • Understand hazard and risk assessment
  • Implement emergency plans and procedures
  • Knows the kinds of PPE to be used and how to use it the right way
  • Function accordingly within the Incident Command System
  • Can effectively utilize the use of specialized equipment and the survey instrumentation for classification, identifying, and verifying both materials
  • Perform advanced control and containment operations

4. Level 4 of HAZWOPER Training – Hazardous Materials Specialist

This training is given to those who provide additional support to those hazardous materials technicians. They should always be on pace like the hazmat technicians in a more supportive and knowledgeable role. They act as a liaison between authorities and companies involved in the scene.

Their emergency response includes:

  • Implementing and creating effective emergency plans that are related to operating procedures.
  • They should also have the ability to utilize instruments and equipment in the field
  • They should perform containment, confinement, or even specialized control operations
  • Possess knowledge and understanding of emergency responses and the hazardous substances

5. Level 5 of HAZWOPER Training – Incident Commander On-Scene

The last level of HAZWOPER Training is for incident commanders on-scene. They are the ones responsible for the entire management when emergencies arise. They are tasked to develop and strategize preventive measures, safety objectives of the organization, and ways to handle risky hazardous materials.

They are required to finish a 24-hour minimum of training or even opt for 40 hours to further understand and demonstrate an acceptable level of competence to perform their duties. Their duties include:

  • Knowledge of the Federal Regional response team
  • Can implement and devise company, state, and local emergency response plans and procedures
  • Understand associated risks and hazardous wastes

Wrapping Up

Having an effective response against emergencies that involve hazardous waste usually starts with proper training and planning. Ensure that employees are well-equipped and updated about OSHA’s mandates and safety training. That way, you, your organization, and your team will always be ready and prepared to handle issues and emergencies.

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