Oil Spills


This webpage is designed to serve as a resource for workers and employers in general, and specifically for emergency response and recovery workers and their employers. It covers safety and health issues related to preparedness for, responses to, and recovery from oil spill emergencies.


The Background page defines oil spill emergencies and provides examples of the types of oil spills that workers may encounter. It also introduces workers and employers to the National Contingency Plan, OSHA's role in oil spill responses, and how OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard applies to oil spill emergencies.

For General Businesses

The For General Businesses page prepares workers and employers to protect themselves and others in their places of business in the event of an oil spill emergency.


The Preparedness page offers basic information on planning, equipping, and training both emergency response workers and employers, and non-emergency response workers and employers, for oil spill emergencies.


The Response page provides information on hazards, exposure assessment and monitoring, PPE, decontamination, medical surveillance, medical management, and other considerations during an oil spill emergency response. The information applies both to emergency response workers and employers, and to non-emergency response workers and employers, for oil spill emergencies.

Other Resources and Additional Information

The OSHA Resources and Additional Resources pages provide links to more information concerning oil spill emergency topics, including types of hazards, exposure assessments, training, sheltering and evacuation, and decontamination.

Employer Responsibilities

Under the OSH Act, each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace. Employers must protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with participation in response and recovery operations for oil spill emergencies. For additional information on workers' rights, employer responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's employers page, workers page and publications list.

OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers through establishing and implementing enforcement standards and providing outreach, education, compliance assistance, and protecting workers from retaliation for reporting safety and health concerns. The publications "OSHA at a Glance" and All About OSHA provide information on the strategies and programs OSHA uses to promote worker safety and health. "OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program" provides information on OSHA's Whistleblower Program, along with a general summary of worker's rights and employer responsibilities.

Additionally, OSHA has developed a set of recommendations intended to assist employers in creating workplaces that are free of retaliation and provide guidance to employers on how to properly respond to workers who may complain about workplace hazards or potential violations of federal laws. We urge employers to review our publication: "Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs".