7 HAZWOPER Training Tips
The OSHA HAZWOPER standard 29 CFR 1910.120 requires certain types of workers to get Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training. The training requirements vary depending on the type of work and the potential hazards faced, but all of the requirements aim to help protect workers from hazardous substances and hazardous wastes that may be encountered in the workplace.
Workers who fall under the OSHA HAZWOPER standard can find it difficult to choose the right course and complete their training, due to the many HAZWOPER training options available. To assist, we have compiled 7 HAZWOPER Training Tips that will help you navigate the training requirements and find the right HAZWOPER training for your situation. Download or print our HAZWOPER Training Tips Infographic.
1. Check for State HAZWOPER Requirements
In most states, the Federal OSHA HAZWOPER training requirements are followed. If you live in a state with an OSHA-Approved State Plan, your HAZWOPER training requirements could be more stringent than the Federal OSHA HAZWOPER standard, and additional training beyond the Federal standard could be required. When State Plans have more stringent requirements, you may be able to take the Federal level training and supplement it with additional state-specific training. See our OSHA HAZWOPER by State page or OSHA’s State Plans page for more information about State Plans.
2. Select the Correct HAZWOPER Course
Selecting the correct HAZWOPER course can be more challenging than you would think. There are several levels of training that fall under the HAZWOPER standard, based on the type of work being performed and the potential hazards the employee will face. Each HAZWOPER training level requires training regarding specific topics and there are also different minimum training hours for each level. The first step in selecting the correct course is to review the HAZWOPER training levels under OSHA standards 1910.120(e)(3), 1910.120(p)(7) and 1910.120(q)(6) to determine which type of training you are are required to complete:
- 40 Hour HAZWOPER Training Level – 1910.120(e)(3)(i)
- 24 Hour HAZWOPER Training Level – 1910.120(e)(3)(ii)
- HAZWOPER Supervisor Training Level – 1910.120(e)(4)
- First Responder Awareness Level – 1910.120(q)(6)(i)
- First Responder Operations Level – 1910.120(q)(6)(ii)
- Hazardous Materials Technician – 1910.120(q)(6)(iii)
- Hazardous Materials Specialist – 1910.120(q)(6)(iv)
- On Scene Incident Commander – 1910.120(q)(6)(v)
Treatment, Storage & Disposal for Hazardous Waste
- 24 Hour HAZWOPER Training Level (for TSD Operations) – 1910.120(p)(7)
Once you know which OSHA training requirement you need to meet, jot it down so you can verify that potential training courses meet the needed OSHA requirement.
3. Select a Training Format
There are so many training options available that you can choose a course with a format that best fits your needs. Consider which of the below training formats would provide the optimal learning environment for your specific situation.
100% Online HAZWOPER Training – Look for training features that will keep you engaged in the material: Full narration; Visual interest – such as photos, videos, or viewable course text; Interactive elements – such as quizzes and exercises; and Downloadable course manuals. If the training is self-paced and available 24/7, the convenience of online training may provide you with a huge benefit. The cost for online training is also generally much less than classroom training. Review a course demo at the training provider’s site to get a feel for the quality of the material and the Online Training System. This will help you determine if the provider’s online training course is a good option for you. Also, look for a provider who stands behind their training with a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
- Traditional Classroom HAZWOPER Training – Typically, classroom courses offer face-to-face interaction with an instructor in a group environment along with other students. For some students, the structure of a classroom and specific course hours provides the benefit of ensuring the course will be completed in a timely manner. Direct engagement with an instructor or other students may also provide additional motivation for some learners. Consider the course costs, travel time and expense, and time needed off of work for classroom training. Most classroom HAZWOPER courses offer the benefit of hands-on training with equipment, but you will want to verify with the provider. Keep in mind, the equipment used in any classroom will likely not be the same exact equipment used on the job. Regardless of the training format chosen, ensure you receive follow-up training with the actual equipment used at your work-site.
- Blend of Online Hours and Classroom Hours – Some training providers offer courses which mix the benefits of online HAZWOPER training with the benefits of hands-on equipment training. These courses often allow students to experience the best features of both training types, but the classroom training portion may not be readily available in your area. Consider the training locations, course costs, travel time and expense, and time needed off of work.
- On-Site Training – If you have a group of workers who all needs the same training, there are training providers who will provide on-site HAZWOPER training at your location. For larger groups, this can be a more convenient and cost-effective option than sending workers to off-site classroom training. This option often allows employers to schedule the training at their convenience and ensure workers complete the training. For this option, contact the training provider and request a quote for on-site training.
Before choosing a training provider:
- Check that they offer the course features (from tip #3) that are important to you.
- Determine if the provider’s course meets the specific OSHA standard you need to meet (from tip #2).
- Ensure they are an established business. Look for testimonials, reviews, and their track record with the Better Business Bureau.
- Discover how and when students are provided with their certificate of course completion. A Wallet ID Card may also be included with the course or may be an optional add-on.
- See if they offer a money back guarantee or have a refund policy if you aren’t satisfied with the training.
- Ask about the qualifications of their trainers. Have the instructors completed relevant training courses? How long have they been instructing? What is their real world work experience in this field?
- For online courses, review a course demo from the training provider to see how the course works and to get a sense of the quality.
- If you have multiple students, see if the provider offers any corporate or group discounts.
- For classroom training: Determine if the training provider offers classes in your area; Ask about the class cancellation policy, as classroom courses can be rescheduled or cancelled if enrollment is low; Compare course costs, travel time and expense, and time needed off of work for each provider option you’re considering.
5. Complete Equipment Training and Field Experience
The equipment used during initial HAZWOPER training often differs from the actual equipment used at the work-site. If you completed equipment training with a training provider, make sure you also get properly trained to use the actual equipment and PPE that you would use during an emergency. In addition to equipment training, 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3) requires field experience training for different types of workers. The field experience requirements range from 1 – 3 days and must be completed under the direct supervision of a trained, experienced supervisor.
6. Set Reminders for HAZWOPER Refresher Training
Annual HAZWOPER refresher training is required for all HAZWOPER workers. Once the initial training is completed, set up electronic and calendar reminders to complete your refresher training before the one year mark passes. This will help you to remain in compliance and ensure your training doesn’t lapse.
7. Monitor Training Opportunities and Needs
- When in doubt about your ability to work safely in a situation, seek out additional training. Over-preparation is a much safer alternative than under-preparation.
- After a hazardous substance emergency or incident, it’s important to review what was done successfully and what needs improvement. Determine how the situation could have been handled better and implement changes that will improve the handling of future incidents.
For OSHA safety training online or in the classroom, see our OSHA Training page.
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