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.

February 2, 1990

Mr. Michael H. Fagel
Lieutenant/EMS Coordinator
North Aurora Fire Department
Post Office Box 209
North Aurora, Illinois 60542

Dear Mr. Fagel:

Thank you for your letter of January 2 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Chicago Regional Office, concerning training requirements of OSHA's Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response Standard, 29 CFR 1910.120. Your letter was forwarded to our office for a reply and we apologize for the delay in response. A copy of the standard is enclosed for your information. I will attempt to answer your questions in the order they were presented in your letter and based on telephone conversations my staff has had with you.

General firefighters and police officers who have the emergency response responsibilities described in 29 CFR 1910.120(a) (3) are subject to the standard. Training requirements for all classifications of responders are based on "the duties and function to be performed by each responder" and the standard sets forth five general categories of responders and the training requirements for each. See 29 CFR 1910.120(q) (6).

Generally, police officers are the first-responder awareness level (Level I of Table 2 referenced in your letter), since they are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release. General firefighters are usually considered to be first responders at the operations level (Level 2 of Table 2 referenced in your letter), since they are individuals who respond to releases -potential releases of hazardous substances as part of the initial-response to the site for the purpose of protecting nearby persons, property, or the environment from the effects of the release. Paragraphs (q)(6)(i) and (ii) of the standard describe the training requirements for these personnel.

At the first-responder awareness level, the training is geared to teaching employees to recognize the hazards to humans present during these emergencies and how to protect themselves from such hazards. The required training also includes instruction on how to accurately and fully report the necessary information to an "alarm dispatcher" so that subsequent emergency responders are fully informed. The standard does not set a mandatory minimum number of hours for this training, but such courses often run from 4 to 12 hours. The mandatory result of the training, regardless of its duration, is that the trained employees be able "to objectively demonstrate competency" in the six areas of knowledge listed in the standard. See 1910.120(q)(6)(ii).

First responders at the operational level shall have received at least eight hours of training or have sufficient experience to objectively demonstrate competency in the following areas in addition to those listed for the awareness level (1910.120(q) (6) (i)) and the employer shall so certify:

(A) Knowledge of the basic hazard and risk assessment techniques.

(B) Know how to select and use proper personal protective equipment provided to the first responder operational level.

(C) An understanding of basic hazardous materials terms.

(D) Know how to perform basic control, containment, and/or confinement operations within the capabilities of the resources and personal protective equipment available with their unit.

(E) Know how to implement basic decontamination procedures.

(F) An understanding of the relevant standard operating procedures and termination procedures.

Training and competency requirements for on scene incident commanders who will assume control of the incident scene beyond the first responder awareness level are delineated in 29 CFR 1910.120(q) (6) (v). Incident commanders shall receive at least 24 hours of training equal to the first responder operations level and in addition have competency in the following areas and the employer shall so certify:

(A) Know and be able to implement the employer's incident command system.

(B) Know how to implement the employer's emergency response plan.

(C) Know and understand the hazards and risks associated with employees working in chemical protective clothing.

(D) Know how to implement the local emergency response plan.

(E) Know of the state emergency response plan and of the Federal Regional Response Team.

Refresher training requirements are found at 1910.120(q)(8). All employees trained in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.120(q) (6) must "receive annual refresher training of sufficient content and duration to maintain their competencies, or shall demonstrate competency in those areas at least yearly."

Illinois does not have an OSHA state plan. Therefore, employees of state and local governments in Illinois who engage in hazardous waste operations and emergency response are covered by the EPA regulation. The applicable EPA regulations are identical to those under OSHA, but are administered and enforced by the EPA. If you have additional questions concerning coverage under the EPA regulations, I suggest that you contact:

Vickie Santoro United States Environmental Protection Agency ERT (MS101) Woodbridge Avenue Building 18 Edison, New Jersey 08837 (201) 906-6917

For information concerning other employee protection for public employees in Illinois, you can contact:

Illinois Department of Labor Division of Safety Inspection and Education 310 South Michigan Avenue - 10th Floor Chicago, Illinois 60604 (312) 793-1820

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again.


Patricia K. Clark
Director Designate
Directorate of Compliance Programs

January 2, 1990

Mr. Michael G. Connors
Regional Administrator
Region V
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
Room 3244, Kluczynski Bldg.
230 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604

RE: 1910.120- Hazardous Waste & Emergency Response

Dear Mr. Connors:

Under Section Q6 with reference to training requirements, I would like to receive clarification as to what type of personnel are in the following five levels.

Are general firefighters and police officers included in the first training level that may be likely to come into contact with hazardous material incidents. What level are these individuals to be trained? Do they fit into level one as indicated on the attached table or do they fit into level two - First responder?

Also, the standard says sufficient training or personal experience for specific competencies". What are the levels or hours required for training?

What are the refreshers that are listed under level five for on-scene incident command. Does this man that the fire chief, or incident commander, must receive 24 hours of 1st responder training and, at what additional competencies are required?

I am also under the impression that in Illinois, public employees, police, fire and emergency services receives protection under the Illinois department of Labor Standards, as well as Federal EPA Standards. Inasmuch as we are trying to allocate time books for training and revenues your reply is requested.

Michael J. Fagel
Lieutenant/EMS Coordinator