OSHA's standards for general industry and the construction industry on hazardous waste operations and emergency response (29 CFR 1910.120 or 29 CFR 1926.65) cover all employees involved in:
Exceptions are permitted if the employer can demonstrate that the operation does not involve employee exposure or a reasonable possibility of such exposure to hazards.
State and local government employees are covered by equivalent standards in the 26 states with OSHA-approved state plans and by the Environment Protection Agency’s hazardous waste standard in states without plans.
Each employer must have:
Other requirements include controls to reduce and monitor exposure levels of hazardous materials, an informational program describing any exposure during operations and the inspection of drums and containers prior to removal or opening. Decontamination procedures and emergency response plans (described under Emergency Response) must be in place before employees begin working in hazardous waste operations. Employers must also create safer environments by developing and implementing effective new technologies.
In addition to programs for safety and health, training, medical surveillance, decontamination, new technology and emergency response, employers at RCRA sites also need the following:
Employers must develop an emergency response plan to handle possible on-site emergencies and coordinate off-site response. Rehearsed regularly and reviewed/amended periodically, the plan must address: personnel roles; lines of authority, training and communications; emergency recognition and prevention; site security; evacuation routes and procedures; decontamination procedures; emergency medical treatment; and emergency alerting procedures. Training is required before employees engage in hazardous waste operations and emergency response.
Uncontrolled hazardous waste operations
Treatment, storage and disposal facilities licensed under RCRA
Emergency response operations at sites not RCRA licensed or at uncontrolled hazardous waste site clean-ups
1) First responders at the "awareness level" (witness or discover a hazardous substance release and initiate the emergency response) must demonstrate competency in areas such as recognizing the presence of hazardous materials in an emergency, the risks involved and the role they play in their employer’s plan.
2) First responders at the "operations level" (respond to prevent the spread, exposures to and the further release of hazardous materials) must have 8 hours of training plus "awareness level" competency.
3) Hazardous materials technicians (respond to stop the release) must have 24 hours of training equal to the "operations level" and know how to implement the employer’s plan and carry out decontamination.
4) Hazardous materials specialists (require specific knowledge of the substances to be contained) must have 24 hours of training equal to the "technical level" and act as liaison with all government authorities.5) On-scene incident commanders (assume control of the scene) must have 24 hours of training equal to the "operations level" and demonstrate competence in implementing the incident command system, the employer’s plan and the state and local emergency response plans.
Annual refresher training is required for each level of response.
For further information about hazardous waste operations and emergency response, please visit OSHA's Hazardous Waste page at www.osha.gov.
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