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1: What is a "brownfield site"?

The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, an amendment to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), defines a brownfield site as "real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant." The definition further identifies the types of sites included and excluded from coverage. For example, brownfield sites can be sites that are contaminated with a controlled substance or petroleum, mine-scarred, or "relatively low-risk." A brownfield site cannot be the subject of planned or on-going removal actions, listed or proposed for listing on the National Priority List (NPL), the subject of an administrative or court order under solid and hazardous waste laws, the subject of corrective actions or closure requirements, or a Federal facility.

A key characteristic of a brownfield site is that it is targeted for redevelopment. The site is not necessarily contaminated, but it is not assumed to be "clean" because of its prior commercial or industrial use. In recent years, some federal agencies and most States have initiated brownfields programs, often to foster economic revitalization. One example at the Federal level is the EPA's brownfields program. At the state level, brownfields programs often provide the site owner relief from some environmental liability when the site is determined to be clean. This incentive was strengthened by the Brownfields Revitalization and Economic Restoration Act mentioned above, which provides federal liability relief for sites addressed under a State response program that meets the criteria in the Act. This incentive can aid in the sale and/or redevelopment of the property.

For more information about Federal and State brownfields programs and site criteria, see the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics webpage under Additional Information. See Question 4 below for a discussion of brownfield site hazards.

2: Who determines that a brownfield site needs to be cleaned up?

In most cases, this determination is made by either the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State environmental agency, or both, based on which environmental agency the property owner is working with and the required site assessment. In some States, a "qualified individual," using criteria published by the State, can also make the determination.

For information about EPAs Brownfields Program, please check the EPA website.

For information about State Brownfield/Voluntary Clean-up Programs (VCP) and clean-up criteria, you can access your State's VCP information from the Federal EPA website.

3: Who pays for assessment and clean-up of a brownfields site? Is there a potentially responsible party?

In some cases, the current owner pays for the brownfield site assessment and clean-up. In other cases, the purchaser may pay clean-up costs. Funding for assessment and clean-up is also available through Federal programs such as the Federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Brownfields Initiative or the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Brownfields Urban Development Initiative, and through State and municipal government programs.

None of the Federal government brownfield site redevelopment programs are designed to undermine the goal of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which is to ensure that the party who created the environmental contamination pays for the clean-up.

4: What are the hazards at brownfield sites?

Generally, brownfield sites cannot have a level of contamination that would place them on either the National Priority List (NPL) or a State priority list. Sites where levels of contamination do not warrant inclusion on either type of priority list are not likely to cause immediate or serious health effects to individuals living or working around them, although they may pose hazards for employees conducting work on the site. As a result, brownfield sites are generally not highly contaminated, however the types and levels of contaminants present can vary considerably among them. When contaminants are present, they may be located in surface soil, buildings or containers (drums, underground tanks), subsurface soil, and groundwater aquifers. The types of contaminants present will depend on the industry or commercial facility that previously operated on the site. According to the 1999 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Case Studies Summary Report, environmental contaminants found at studied sites included petroleum hydrocarbons, lead, construction debris (lead paint or asbestos containing materials), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), treated wood (creosote, cadmium/chromium/arsenic), industrial chemicals, and diesel fuel (Brownfields Title VI Case Studies Summary Report. June 1999, EPA Document Number: EPA 500-R-99-003).

In addition to chemical exposure, the potential hazards may resemble those found on a construction site and could include heat stress; falls from elevated work surfaces; slips, falls, or cave-ins in excavations or trenches; mechanical and impact hazards associated with heavy equipment and hand-held tools; electrical hazards; and noise exposure.

Employee risk is caused by exposure to site hazards and depends on the concentration, frequency, and duration of exposure. Hazards associated with brownfield site assessment are summarized in Question 6. Hazards associated with brownfield site remediation are summarized in Question 7.

5: What clean-up methods are used on brownfield sites?

The choice of methods and technologies for a brownfield site clean-up will be influenced by several factors, such as site conditions, local permit restrictions, community concerns, clean-up endpoints, and time and budget constraints. If site soil or groundwater is contaminated, the methods and technologies may resemble those used on Superfund sites. If site contamination is contained within structures or containers, clean-up might involve removal of asbestos or lead-based paint, or retrieval and offsite disposal of drums and containers.

Federal and State brownfield site programs offer substantial assistance in the selection of an appropriate clean-up method and publish "success stories" about sites that have been remediated. For more information about the clean-up choices available, you may want to review two Environmental Protection Agency publications that address this topic: The Road Map to Understanding Innovative Technology Options for Brownfields Investigation and Cleanup and Tool Kit of Information Resources for Brownfields Investigation and Cleanup [3 MB PDF, 170 pages].

6: What safety and health hazards are associated with brownfield site assessment activities and what OSHA standards apply?

The answer to this question depends on the hazards your employees may encounter, and whether the site meets the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) definition of an uncontrolled hazardous waste site. See Question 8 to determine if your site is an uncontrolled hazardous waste site.

Brownfield site assessment tasks are performed on- and off-site. They can range from reviewing historical information (e.g., aerial photographs) to collecting subsurface soil samples and evaluating environmental contamination within site structures. Historic site records will often allow you to identify specific site contaminants, their likely concentrations and locations.

The best way to determine which occupational hazards exist is to conduct a job hazard analysis for each assessment task. A job hazard analysis combines employee exposure information with equipment and procedural information and results in a list of chemical and physical hazards associated with each task.

Sample collection is likely to be the most intrusive activity conducted during the site assessment phase. Familiarity with environmental sampling equipment (e.g., hand augers, mechanical soil drills, drill rigs) and procedures will allow you to determine the physical hazards associated with collecting samples. When you have determined the hazards that may be present and tasks that could result in employee exposure, you can identify the applicable OSHA standard(s) to protect your employees.

See Table 1 below for a list of hazards that might be associated with your site assessment activities and the Federal OSHA standards that address those hazards. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it suggests hazards that you should consider.



Table 1: Potential Hazards and OSHA Standards for
Consideration during Site Assessment Activities
(Not Comprehensive)

Site Exposure/Control Potentially Applicable OSHA Standard*
1910 General Industry 1926 Construction
Hazard Assessment
& Employee Training
29 CFR 1910.132(d) 29 CFR 1926.21(b)
Chemical Exposure 29 CFR 1910.1000 29 CFR 1926.55
Confined Spaces 29 CFR 1910.146 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(6)
29 CFR 1926.353(b)
Wiring Methods (temporary wiring) 29 CFR 1910.305(a)(2) 29 CFR 1926.405(a)(2)
Electrical Hazards 29 CFR 1910.333 29 CFR 1926.416
Emergency Action
Planning
29 CFR 1910.38 29 CFR 1926.35
Hand and Portable
Powered Tools
29 CFR 1910 Subpart P 29 CFR 1926 Subpart I
Heavy Equipment Operation 29 CFR 1910.95
29 CFR 1910 Subpart N
29 CFR 1926.52
29 CFR 1926 Subpart O
Personal Protective
Equipment
29 CFR 1910 Subpart I 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E
Portable Fire Protection 29 CFR 1910.157 29 CFR 1926.150(c)
Walking and Working
Surfaces
29 CFR 1910 Subpart D 29 CFR 1926 Subpart X

* This table does not include all of the applicable OSHA standards since each situation is unique. Standards enforced in States with OSHA-approved State Plans may be different. See Question 18. The Federal General Industry and Construction citations are provided above. If you are under State OSHA jurisdiction, some of the standards may be different. The tasks that employees conduct determine which standards will apply. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines "construction work" in 29 CFR 1926.32 (g) and 1910.12 as "construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating." Employers engaged in these activities are considered to be doing construction work and must comply with the Construction Safety and Health standards in 29 CFR 1926.

7: What safety and health hazards are associated with brownfield clean-up activities and what OSHA standards apply?

Site clean-up activities involve a greater variety of hazards and higher levels of exposure than site assessment activities. Depending on how and where hazardous substances are dispersed, you may need to use an intrusive collection method (pumping, stripping, removing, or excavating) to consolidate environmentally contaminated material for treatment or disposal. These types of operations will usually result in the highest chemical exposure to employees, and require the most physical activity, equipment, and planning.

The time and equipment required to do a task may add to its hazards. For example, the use of heavy equipment and on-site treatment technologies may require hearing protection, adequate and appropriate storage of flammable and corrosive materials, other personal protective equipment (PPE), and emergency response resources. Since clean-up activities usually occur over a longer duration than site assessment activities, employers may need to provide more on-site facilities for personal hygiene needs.

See Table 2 below for a list of hazards that might be associated with your clean-up operations and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards that address those hazards. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it suggests hazards that you should consider.



Table 2: Potential Hazards and OSHA Standards for
Consideration during Clean-up Activities
(Not Comprehensive)
Site Exposure/Control Potentially Applicable OSHA Standard*
1910 General Industry 1926 Construction
Hazard Assessment
& Employee Training
29 CFR 1910.132(d) 29 CFR 1926.21(b)
Chemical Exposure 29 CFR 1910.1000 29 CFR 1926.55
Noise Exposure 29 CFR 1910.95 29 CFR 1926.52
Sanitation 29 CFR 1910.141 29 CFR 1926.51
Wiring Methods (temporary wiring) 29 CFR 1910.305(a)(2) 29 CFR 1926.405(a)(2)
Electrical Hazards 29 CFR 1910.333 29 CFR 1926.416
Emergency Action
Planning
29 CFR 1910.38 29 CFR 1926.35
Excavation covered by 1926 29 CFR 1926 Subpart P
Confined Space Entry 29 CFR 1910.146 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(6)
29 CFR 1926.353(b)
Material Handling 29 CFR 1910 Subpart N 29 CFR 1926 Subpart H
29 CFR 1926.600-602
29 CFR 1926.604
Building Demolition covered by 1926 29 CFR 1926 Subpart T
Site Contaminant
Abatement
29 CFR 1910.1000-1029
29 CFR 1910.1043-1052
29 CFR 1926.55
29 CFR 1926.62
29 CFR 1926.1101-1152
Elevated Work Surfaces 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D
29 CFR 1910 Subpart F
29 CFR 1926 Subpart L
29 CFR 1926 Subpart M
29 CFR 1926.552
Chemical Storage 29 CFR 1910 Subpart H
29 CFR 1910.1200
29 CFR 1926.59
29 CFR 1926 Subpart F
Personal Protective Equipment 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E
Heavy Equipment
Operation
29 CFR 1910.95
29 CFR 1910 Subpart N
29 CFR 1926.52
29 CFR 1926 Subpart O
Tasks-Long Duration 29 CFR 1910.141-142 29 CFR 1926.51


* This table does not include all of the applicable OSHA Standards since each situation is unique. Standards enforced in States with OSHA-approved State Plans may be different. See Question 18.

The Federal General Industry and Construction citations are provided above. If you are under State OSHA jurisdiction, some of the standards may be different. The tasks that employees conduct determine which standards will apply. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines "construction work" in 29 CFR 1926.32 (g) and 1910.12 as "construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating." Employers engaged in these activities are considered to be doing construction work and must comply with the Construction Safety and Health Regulations in 29 CFR 1926.

8: Is a brownfield site a hazardous waste site? Does OSHA's HAZWOPER standard (29 CFR 1910.120 or 1926.65) apply to work done at brownfield sites?

From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) perspective, a brownfield site is a hazardous waste site if the site meets OSHA's definition of an uncontrolled hazardous waste site. This definition is found in paragraph (a) of the 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65 Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard. In State Plan States where the State HAZWOPER standard is different from the Federal standard (currently Michigan, California, and Washington), the definition may be different. Please see the text of the State standard and Question 18 for more information on State Plans.

OSHA’s HAZWOPER standard applies to work done at your brownfields site if you're conducting clean-up operations on a site that falls within the scope of the standard. Clean-up operations are defined in paragraph (a)(3) and include operations where hazardous substances are removed, contained, stabilized, or processed in order to make the site safer for people or the environment (see formal definition). Such operations might involve excavating and removing contaminated soil or constructing engineering controls to contain site contaminants. These clean-up operations fall within the scope of HAZWOPER if they are conducted on a government-identified uncontrolled hazardous waste site or a RCRA corrective action site, as described in paragraph (a)(1)(i)-(iii) of the standard. Sites listed on the National Priority List (NPL), in the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) CERCLIS (CERCLA Information System) database or in an analogous State database are generally considered government-identified uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. However, these databases sometimes exclude RCRA corrective action sites. Databases such as RCRIS (RCRA Information System) and ERNS (Emergency Response Notification System) may help you identify RCRA-related sites. You should contact the appropriate Federal or State environmental agency to verify information from any of these databases and the classification of your site.

HAZWOPER may also apply if the government Brownfields or Voluntary Clean-up Program (VCP) in which you participate requires compliance with the standard. Federal Brownfields and State Voluntary Clean-up Programs may require HAZWOPER compliance even if they exclude government-identified hazardous waste sites from program participation. If your site participates in one of these programs, then you may be required to comply with some or all of HAZWOPER’s clean-up requirements in paragraphs (b)-(o). For example, EPA Brownfields initiatives are generally financed by a Superfund Cooperative Agreement (CA) and these CAs require compliance with HAZWOPER (see Question 20). If your project is an EPA Brownfields Pilot (Demonstration Assessment or Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan), you should review the funding CA and the resources listed in Question 22 to determine if HAZWOPER compliance is required.

State agencies may also require compliance with HAZWOPER or other OSHA standards as a condition of VCP participation (as an example, see Question 12). Some of these programs also have agreements with Federal EPA, which may include provisions for HAZWOPER compliance. If your brownfield site participates in a VCP, review the participant rules/guidelines and resources in Question 22 to determine if your State’s VCP requires HAZWOPER compliance.

Even if your site is not covered by the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, you may want to plan your approach to site safety and health with a written plan that records hazards, identifies the applicable OSHA standards, and identifies appropriate exposure controls. Such a plan is required for sites that must comply with HAZWOPER and is described in paragraph (b)(4) of that standard. For more information about preparing such a plan, see Questions 10 and 11.

9: How does HAZWOPER compliance at a brownfield site differ from compliance at a Superfund site?

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard is a performance-oriented standard. Although the same HAZWOPER requirements must be addressed at each type of site, the plans and procedures you need to comply with on a brownfield site are not likely to be as complex as those required on Superfund sites.

Brownfield sites generally have lower environmental contaminant concentrations, lower related occupational exposures, and fewer on-site chemical drums and containers. Although heavy equipment is likely to be present, brownfield sites frequently use smaller or off-site treatment technologies. As a result, they will generally have fewer hazards than Superfund sites and providing adequate protection will require fewer hazard controls. Written health and safety plans and procedures are likely to address fewer or less complex job hazards at brownfield sites, resulting in shorter documents. In some cases, the number of contractors and employees will be smaller on brownfield sites. This can ease coordination of site activities and make it easier to prepare a single comprehensive site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP).

Reduced employee exposure to hazardous substances can reduce site-specific training; fewer hours of HAZWOPER training are required if employees work in areas that do not have the potential for exposure above the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) or other established limits. Where employee exposure levels are low, the procedures for site control, air monitoring, and decontamination will be simpler. In addition, medical surveillance programs may not be required. Overall, since your controls are in proportion to the level of hazards, where hazard levels are reduced, the controls you must implement are proportionally reduced.

10: Our loan/contract/Cooperative Agreement requires a site-specific health and safety plan (HASP) consistent with 1910.120 prior to starting field work. What is this plan and what must it contain?

The site-specific health and safety plan (HASP) is a document required by the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard that identifies site hazards and the controls you've implemented to protect your employees. Minimally, the HASP must be prepared according to 29 CFR 1910.120(b)(4).

If your brownfield site is in a State Plan State where the State HAZWOPER standard is different from the Federal standard (currently Michigan, California, and Washington), HASP requirements may be slightly different. See Question 18.

11: Who prepares a site HASP and who is covered by it? Can a HASP prepared by site contractors cover oversight personnel or other workers on site only occasionally?

From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) perspective, employers who have employees on a site that falls within the scope of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, paragraphs (b)-(o), are responsible for ensuring that their employees are protected by the provisions of an effective site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP). One way to accomplish this is for each employer to prepare its own HASP to address employee work activities, the associated hazards, and implemented controls. This plan must be coordinated with other contractors on the site and with the emergency response organization(s) and the medical care facilities you’ll rely on for emergency services.

Alternatively, a single site HASP may be prepared to cover multiple contractors. Preparation of a comprehensive site HASP may promote efficiency, completeness, clarity and coordination among all parties. A company can use the site-wide or prime contractor’s HASP to protect its employees if the HASP appropriately addresses all activities and potential safety and health hazards to which its employees may be exposed. Each contractor and subcontractor, however, is ultimately responsible for complying with OSHA safety and health requirements that apply to its employees. If the site-wide or prime contractor’s HASP does not address the hazards or controls associated with your employees' activities on the brownfield site, you are responsible for working with the contractor to modify the HASP, or for developing a supplemental plan to cover the additional provisions that apply to your work operations, or developing a complete HASP if necessary.

Employers whose employees oversee site operations have the same obligation to protect their employees. These employers can choose to adopt and adhere to the provisions within an existing site HASP, provided that the HASP adequately addresses the tasks of oversight employees and provides effective hazard controls. OSHA’s response would be the same for workers on site only occasionally.

12: The State requires a site-specific HASP and "compliance with 1910" to participate in the Voluntary Clean-up Program (VCP). What does this mean?

A site-specific health and safety plan (HASP), as discussed in the reply to Question 10, is a written document that addresses the site's conditions and hazards, the hazard controls, and procedures implemented to protect employees.

The Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) and other Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry standards, are contained in Volume 29, Part 1910 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). By requiring "compliance with 1910," your State Voluntary Clean-up Program (VCP) requires that you comply with all the additional Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry requirements that apply to you. These might include, among others, requirements relating to personal protective equipment and employee training, chemical exposure, walking and working surfaces, electrical hazards, noise, hand and portable power tools, and heavy equipment operation.

Please be aware that the Federal HAZWOPER standard states that when an operation is within the scope of HAZWOPER, and another OSHA standard contains a requirement that overlaps or conflicts with HAZWOPER, the provision that is most protective of worker safety and health applies (29 CFR 1910.120(a)(2)(i) and 29 CFR 1926.65(a)(2)(i)). For example, if HAZWOPER and the respiratory protection standard both apply to a clean-up operation, the employer must prepare the written PPE program described in HAZWOPER paragraph (g), but must include and comply with the more protective written program provisions for respiratory protection in 29 CFR 1910.134(c).

13: What is the difference between the site-specific HASP and the Health and Safety Program required by HAZWOPER?

Paragraph (b)(1) of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) describes the elements of a health and safety program. At a minimum, a program contains an organizational structure, a comprehensive work plan, and a site-specific health and safety plan that includes the employer's standard operating procedures for safety and health. Paragraph (b)(4) describes the site-specific health and safety plan, often referred to as the site-specific HASP. The HASP addresses the hazards, control provisions, and work tasks that apply to a particular site. It must be kept on site while work is being conducted. A HASP is also dynamic; it is revised as the personnel, site conditions, and site tasks change. The HASP does not need to repeat information contained in other employer documents. For example:

  • If you have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that describes corporate medical surveillance procedures for hazardous waste site operations, your site-specific HASP can reference this SOP and indicate how its application may vary (e.g., in the content or frequency of exams) at your specific site.

  • If your company's written respiratory protection program describes how to select respiratory protection or determine a cartridge change schedule, the site-specific HASP could reference the respiratory protection program and further identify site-specific information such as which respirator is required for each task, what air monitoring limits are appropriate for using the respirator during the task, and how often the cartridges are changed.

See Questions 10 and 11 for additional information about HASP preparation.

14: Are resources available to assist me in developing a HASP and a Health and Safety Program?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide a number of on-line and written resources for developing both a site-specific HASP and a comprehensive Health and Safety Program. The resources and links are identified on the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics webpage under Possible Solutions.

15: Who is responsible for safety and health oversight at a brownfield site?

Brownfield sites that must comply with the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard (see Question 8) must have a site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP) on site (see Questions 10 and 11) that defines personnel roles and responsibilities, including health and safety oversight. Sites for which a single HASP has been developed will generally assign safety and health oversight to one individual, the Health and Safety Coordinator. This individual is usually an employee of the primary contractor (or Construction Manager) and is responsible for sitewide compliance with the HASP. Individual contractors and subcontractors, however, still must ensure the safety and health of their own employees. Sites may also have multiple HASPs (a HASP for each contractor), with each HASP identifying an individual Health and Safety Coordinator.

The contract relationships and safety and health responsibilities on brownfield sites are similar to those on multi-employer construction sites. Generally, both the primary contractor and individual subcontractors are responsible for safety and health oversight and for complying with applicable heath and safety requirements at a brownfield site. The primary contractor is responsible for the oversight and compliance of its employees and has supervisory authority over the site, including the power to correct safety and health hazards or to have them corrected. Each subcontractor is responsible for the oversight and compliance of its individual employees. Each employer is also responsible for communicating the hazards and exposure controls associated with its particular site tasks to its employees and other site contractors and subcontractors.

Often, the primary contractor will be considered the site's controlling employer, having the authority to implement appropriate exposure controls site-wide for the hazards created during a brownfield site project. A subcontractor may also be held responsible for the health and safety of other site personnel, if that subcontractor creates site hazards (a creating employer). Project managers and site supervisors enforce the applicable health and safety requirements for the employees they supervise. For more information concerning safety and health responsibilities on multi-employer work sites, see Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Instruction CPL 02-00-124 [CPL 2-0.124], Multi-Employer Citation Policy.

In many cases, the primary contractor may be a public entity, like a municipality, inexperienced in HAZWOPER compliance. The municipality may rely on a contractor (or Construction Manager) to develop and implement the site-specific HASP. Consequently, this contractor would coordinate the daily site activities and may also be responsible for the daily safety and health oversight.

Federal, State and local environmental agencies also may provide oversight during brownfield site projects. These agencies focus on the assessment and clean-up methods employed at the site and would generally not assume direct responsibility for health and safety oversight. They may provide some level of sitewide health and safety oversight to ensure that a brownfield site program participant complies with the program requirements. Specific agency roles are discussed in Questions 19 through 21.

16: What HAZWOPER training or other safety and health training do brownfield site workers and supervisors need?

The safety and health training brownfield site workers and supervisors need depends on the activities these employees will perform and whether or not the site is covered by the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard (Question 8). In addition, if your site is in a State Plan State where the state HAZWOPER standard is different from the Federal standard (currently Michigan, California, and Washington), training requirements may be slightly different. See Question 18.

If you have determined that your site is covered by HAZWOPER, then you'll find the applicable training requirements in paragraph (e). Generally, HAZWOPER requires that site workers and supervisors attend a minimum number of hours of initial training and annual refresher training. HAZWOPER provides a recommended outline for these classes in a non-mandatory appendix (Appendix E).

Initial HAZWOPER training requirements are based on the frequency and level of exposure you anticipate your site employees could encounter. Although most Superfund site employees require the 40-hour initial training course, you may find that the 24-hour initial training is sufficient based on site conditions (see Question 9). Employees who need initial training must also receive eight hours of on-site field experience under the direct supervision of a trained, experienced supervisor. HAZWOPER contains an equivalent training provision (paragraph (e)(9)) that allows employers to certify that an employee's prior training and work experience are equivalent to the initial training requirements.

Site supervisors need the appropriate hours of initial training based on anticipated exposure levels and eight additional hours of supervisor training. Generally, site supervisors will need the same level of initial training as the employees they supervise. The additional eight hours of training should familiarize supervisors with your comprehensive health and safety program and its application to brownfield site activities.

Each site worker and supervisor must receive eight hours of refresher training each year to review critical health and safety requirements and procedures, and introduce new or revised requirements and procedures. The refresher training, discussed in HAZWOPER paragraph (e)(8), must be geared toward a worker's or supervisor's site responsibilities.

Once on site, employees on brownfield sites covered by HAZWOPER also need site-specific training. Training should familiarize employees with the site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP) and the exposure controls appropriate for each site task. Training should include, as applicable, site-specific emergency response procedures, site control procedures, levels and types of personal protective equipment, respiratory protection change schedules (i.e., for canisters and cartridges), confined space entry procedures, heat and cold stress awareness, air monitoring requirements, decontamination procedures, and any other applicable site requirements. Site-specific training may be conducted throughout the project as site tasks and conditions change.

Employees who are not covered by HAZWOPER will need to receive training consistent with the hazards and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements associated with their job tasks. Training provisions that may apply include personal protective equipment use and selection, hazard communications, hearing conservation, confined space entry, and other topics. In many cases, employees will have received this type of training to conduct their routine tasks at other work locations. They will need site-specific information, however, that describes how these topics apply to the conditions on site.

For a specific discussion of emergency response training requirements, see Question 24.

17: Where can this training be obtained?

You may want to check with the Brownfields or Voluntary Clean-up Program (VCP) coordinator in your State or local area to find Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training providers that may tailor their courses to brownfield site employers. Additional resources and links are identified on the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics webpage, see Training.

Often, employers provide in-house training to comply with the requirements of other Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, such as hazard communication (29 CFR 1910.1200) training. If you want more information about the employee training OSHA requires, the publication Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines, OSHA 2254, is available for download here. Additional resources and links are also identified on the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics webpage (Training). If your site is located in one of the States where the State HAZWOPER standard differs from the Federal standard (currently Michigan, California, or Washington), check your State Plan website for available training. Some States have on-line refresher training courses.

18: Who enforces safety and health requirements at a brownfield site?

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or State occupational safety and health agency regulates and enforces health and safety standards in the workplace, including brownfield sites. Twenty-three States and territories have OSHA-approved State occupational safety and health programs or "State Plans" that cover public and private employees and enforce State standards that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA's. Three additional States have State Plans that cover public employees only, while Federal OSHA standards cover private employees. In the remaining States, Federal OSHA standards apply, but only to private employees. For more information about State Plans, check the directory of State Plans and links to State Plan websites from Federal OSHA's website.

A variety of OSHA standards may apply during brownfield assessment and clean-up (see Questions 6-8). Federal or State OSHA will enforce its standards within their OSHA-defined scope and application. On brownfields sites where the Federal or State HAZWOPER standard does not apply, OSHA will evaluate site health and safety under other applicable OSHA standards.

As discussed in Question 8, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the State environmental agency may require compliance with specific OSHA standards for brownfield site clean-ups. Generally, these requirements are associated with program participation and/or project funding. Where such requirements exist, the EPA or State environmental agency may require documentation that your site is complying with those requirements. However, EPA and State environmental agencies generally do not assume a health and safety enforcement role. Information about EPA's role in health and safety is discussed in Question 20. For information about the role of a State environmental agency, see Question 21.

19: What is OSHA's role at a brownfield site?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may provide consultation assistance or enforcement authority at a brownfield site. OSHA provides free consultation services for small employers. These services are designed to help small employers identify workplace hazards and cost-effective corrective actions. You can get more information about the OSHA 21 (d) Consultation Program, and find the consultation office in your area, by checking the Consultation Program website. Consultation services are completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort, and are delivered by State government agencies using well-trained professional staff.

To ensure workers are adequately protected, OSHA may visit a brownfield site and conduct a comprehensive inspection, or focus on a specific area related to an employee complaint. Depending on the type of inspection, compliance officers may review required documentation, including Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), employee training certifications, and  injury and illnesses records. If your site falls within the scope of 29 CFR 1910.120, the compliance officer may also review your site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP).

During an inspection, OSHA may physically inspect your site and may monitor employee exposures by using direct reading instruments or taking wipe samples or air samples. To evaluate employee exposures, OSHA more often checks the employer's sampling data to ensure that implemented engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protective equipment (PPE) sufficiently protect employees.

At the end of an inspection, OSHA holds a closing conference and describes the apparent violations of OSHA standards. OSHA may issue citations for violations, requiring the employer to correct them. For more information about OSHA's inspection procedures, Section 6, Chapter II of OSHA's Field Operations Manual (FOM), CPL 02-00-148, (2009, January 9) [Updated Field Operations Manual (FOM), CPL 02-00-150, (2011, April 22)]. Provides guidance to OSHA inspectors for conducting accident investigations.

OSHA offers technical resources to help you control or abate site hazards. Since brownfield sites are similar to construction sites and hazardous waste sites, many of the on-line resources for both of these types of sites should be useful to you. OSHA has compliance resources and links about these types of sites on the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics webpage. Employers can also telephone or write OSHA to resolve compliance questions. See the list of Federal and State offices.

20: What is the EPA's role in safety and health at a brownfield site?

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) role on a brownfield site is largely determined by the site's participation in an EPA-funded brownfield initiative and is generally limited to the environmental aspects of the site assessment and clean-up.

EPA usually does not coordinate daily on-site activities. Nevertheless, EPA requires that Brownfield projects funded by Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) funds (Superfund) comply with the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard. When EPA releases Brownfield initiative funding through a Cooperative Agreement (CA), these agreements mandate HAZWOPER compliance (40 CFR 35.6055 and 35.6105). As a result, if your site assessment or clean-up is funded by a CA, you may be required to demonstrate to EPA as a condition of your contract, that the brownfield site activities covered by the contract are being conducted in accordance with HAZWOPER. In cases where you cannot demonstrate this, EPA may require corrective actions be taken. EPA may also request assistance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on matters of health and safety.

21: What is the State's role in S&H at a brownfield site?

If a State has a State Plan approved by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the State OSH agency will play the same site role as Federal OSHA (see Questions 18 and 19).

The State environmental agency's role on a brownfield site is similar to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA). A State environmental agency usually does not coordinate or oversee daily activities. State agencies are more likely to visit Voluntary Clean-up Program (VCP) participants, and observe both environmental and health and safety compliance. State VCP programs mandating compliance with the Hazardous Waste Site and Emergency Response standard (HAZWOPER) generally require participants to submit the workplan and site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP) for evaluation and approval prior to commencing site activities. A State agency would probably check these documents during site visits and use the information for adequately protecting its own employees. As mentioned in Question 20, in cases where you do not have these documents or are not complying with them, the State may require corrective actions, and may request assistance from OSHA.

22: Do these agencies have compliance assistance resources?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compliance resources and links on its Brownfields, Hazardous Waste, and Emergency Preparedness and Response Safety and Health Topics Pages. Regulatory text and letters of interpretation are located here.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resources and links about assessment and remediation activities on brownfield sites are identified on the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics webpage. The EPA also sponsors a Brownfield Technology Support Center. Information about its function and services is on-line.

EPA contacts and links for State Voluntary Clean-up Programs (VCP) are identified on the Brownfields Safety and Health Topics Page. The Northeast Midwest Institute provides a summary document identifying the characteristics of individual State brownfield site initiatives.

23: Do all responses to hazardous substance releases on a brownfield site require emergency responses?

No, a hazardous substance release at a brownfield site or elsewhere does not always require an emergency response. If a release of a hazardous substance does not pose a significant safety or health hazard to any employees in the area or employees involved in cleaning up the release, and doesn't have the potential to become an emergency within a short amount of time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers it an "incidental spill." Incidental spills are limited in quantity, exposure potential, and/or toxicity and do not require an emergency response. In contrast, there are releases of hazardous substances that pose a sufficient threat to health and safety and require an emergency response regardless of the circumstances or the mitigating factors surrounding the release. A hazardous substance emergency response includes, but is not limited to, the following situations:

  1. the release requires evacuation of employees in the area;
  2. the release poses, or has the potential to pose, conditions that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH);
  3. the release poses a serious threat of fire or explosion;
  4. the release requires immediate attention because of imminent danger;
  5. the release may cause high levels of exposure to toxic substances;
  6. there is uncertainty that the employee in the work area can handle the severity of the hazard with the PPE and equipment that have been provided and the exposure limit could easily be exceeded;
  7. the situation is unclear, or data are lacking on important factors.

Employees must be trained to distinguish between incidental spills and emergency releases of hazardous substances. For more information on making this distinction, see OSHA Directive Inspection Procedures for 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65, Paragraph (q): Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases. CPL 02-02-073, (2007, August 27), 29 CFR 1910.120 and 29 CFR 1926.65. See also Question 24.

If there is the potential for a hazardous substance emergency to occur at your site, you must coordinate your emergency response plan with local emergency responders. OSHA also recommends that the site employer(s) contact local emergency responders to resolve any concerns or confusion you may have about emergency responses at the site.

24: How do brownfield site emergency responders need to be trained and prepared?

This is determined by the potential for a hazardous substance emergency release at your site, and by the responders' assigned duties during an emergency.

If you are an employer at a site that is required to comply with paragraphs (b)-(o) of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, the emergency response training provisions in paragraph (e)(7) apply to on-site personnel. If you expect your on-site employees to participate in emergency response, you must prepare an emergency response plan according to the provisions in paragraph (l) and train and equip your personnel according to their assigned duties.

If you expect all of your employees to evacuate the emergency release area immediately and seek refuge, you must prepare an emergency action plan and comply with the training according to provisions  in 29 CFR 1910.38. However, if you could have a hazardous substance emergency release on your site, you are still responsible for selecting a hazmat response provider and for verifying that the provider you select can meet your specialized emergency response needs. Not all local fire departments, for example, have hazmat teams. If the local fire department is not trained and equipped to respond to hazmat emergencies, you must make alternative arrangements. These arrangements may include contracting with a private hazmat responder, training your own hazmat team, or coordinating with other local employers and community response organizations to arrange for a community hazmat team.

If you are an employer at a site that does not fall within the scope of HAZWOPER paragraphs (b)-(o), and there is the potential for a hazardous substance emergency at your site, then the emergency response provisions in HAZWOPER paragraph (q) apply to you. Under paragraph (q), you may still evacuate your employees during an emergency, provided you develop an emergency action plan and train your employees according to 29 CFR 1910.38. You are also still required to make arrangements for effective hazardous substance emergency response for your site.

If you are the employer of an off-site emergency response team, including a municipal emergency response team, you must train your employees for the duties you expect them to perform. If you expect your employees to respond to a brownfield site of known or suspected contamination where a hazardous substance emergency response effort is anticipated, your employees must operate in compliance with HAZWOPER's paragraph (q) and must be trained according to the provisions in paragraph (q)(6). Coordination with employers that plan to rely on your response services will provide the site-specific information you need to plan and execute emergency response operations safely.

Be aware that municipal responders in State Plan States are under State jurisdiction. If you are working in one of the States where the State HAZWOPER standard differs from the Federal standard (currently Michigan, California, or Washington), the State requirements may be different.

In Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) States, State and local government employees, both paid and volunteer, are covered by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) HAZWOPER standard, 40 CFR 311. The provisions of EPA's standard are identical to OSHA's.


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