OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

August 31, 1989

Mark E. Falerios, C.I.H.
Manager, Health and Safety
Dunn Geoscience Corporation
Lincoln Centre, Suite 106
299 Cherry Hill Road
Parsippany, New Jersey 07054

Dear Mr. Falerios:

This is in response to your inquiry of August 3 regarding the application of the training requirements under the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response final standard (29 CFR 1910.120(e)) to underwater divers.

You explained that the divers will be working on a site performing preliminary investigations to identify the location(s) of drums deposited underwater along the side of a creek. The work will involve the use of metal detection units to facilitate drum location. The employees will be wearing dry suits and S.C.U.B.A. No direct contact with the drum contents is planned as part of the investigation.

OSHA considers preliminary investigations, such as identifying the location of drums, part of the clean-up operation. Thus, if the site falls under the scope of 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(1)(i) - (iii) then the training requirements in 29 CFR 1910.120 apply unless the employer can demonstrate that the operation does not involve potential employee exposure to safety or health hazards. The training requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120(e) provide for 24 or 40 hours of training depending on the anticipated levels of employee exposure and the length of time employees are on the site.

The final standard was issued March 6, 1989, and becomes effective March 6, 1990. OSHA in its enforcement discretion will not issue citations under the interim final rule if an employer is in compliance with the final standard.

I hope this information is helpful.


Thomas J. Shepich, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs