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.

May 13, 1991

Ms. Karen L. Artz
Training Coordinator
BP Oil Company
4850 East 49th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44125-1079

Dear Ms. Artz:

This is in response to your inquiry of February 22, concerning the training and certification procedures in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response final rule (29 CFR 1910.120) HAZWOPER. Please accept my apology for the delay in this reply.

Your specific question relates to the training and certification procedures pertaining to 1910.120(q). OSHA has reviewed your interpretation of Section 1910.120(q) and has the following comments:



  1. You make no allowance for training of the on scene incident commander, who will head up the incident scene beyond the, first responder level. This individual is the key player of the Hazmat team. Section 1910.120(q) requires that someone be identified as the on scene incident commander and trained to a level commensurate with his duties as such (the level of training required is described in Section 1910.120(q)(6)(v)).
  2. Section 1910.120(q) requires yearly refresher training for all levels of emergency responders to maintain a level of competency in line with responsibilities of the job.
  3. Section 1910.120(q) also anticipates "hands on" training in addition to the classroom training.

The exact language of the regulation concerning trainers can be found in 1910.120(q)(7). The final rule states:



"(7) Trainers. Trainers who teach any of the above training subjects [section (q)(6)(i)-(v)] shall have satisfactorily completed a training course for teaching the subjects they are expected to teach, such as the courses offered by the U.S. National Fire Academy or they shall have training and/or academic credentials and instructional experience necessary to demonstrate competent instructional skills and a good command of the subject matter of the courses they are to teach."

Pertaining to BP's desire to certify the training subjects as "trained," Section 1910.120(q) does not delineate specific procedures, however, OSHA interprets the language of section 1910.120(q); "the employer shall so certify", to imply that the employer shall provide written certification to all personnel that have successfully completed the training for each and all of the various responder levels identified in Section 1910.120(q)(6). Certification of the yearly refresher training is also required in Section 1910.120(q). The pertinent section of the final rule states:

"(8) Refresher Training. (i) Those employees who are trained in accordance with paragraph (q)(6) of this section shall receive annual refresher training of sufficient content and duration to maintain their competencies or shall demonstrate competency in those areas at least yearly. (ii) A statement shall be made of the training or the competency and if a statement of competency is made, the employer shall keep a record of the methodology used to demonstrate competency."



This guidance pertains to a current interpretation of the HAZWOPER final rule (1910.120). OSHA is working on a new regulation concerning certification of HAZWOPER training programs (1910.121), which will be promulgated in the future. Currently, this new rule is in rule making. Preliminary hearings have already taken place. Therefore, it would behoove BP to monitor the progress of this new law and anticipate needed changes in your training and certification programs to insure continued compliance by your training division.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact [the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190].


Patricia K. Clark, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 1/20/2005. On August 15, 2002 the proposed 1910.121 "Accreditation of Training Programs for Hazardous Waste Operations" proposed rule was withdrawn from the Unified Regulatory Agenda (see Federal Register 67:74749-74785 dated December 9, 2002).]



February 22, 1991

Ms. Patricia K. Clark
Director Designate, Directorate of Compliance Programs
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210

RE: 29 CFR 1910.120 Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response

I am the training coordinator for the terminals and distribution department of BP Oil and, in this capacity, I am responsible for ascertaining that we have sufficient training for our staff under the subject regulation. The Section of 1910.120 which applies to us is Section (q), emergency response to hazardous substance releases.

It is my understanding under Section (q), that as long as the person doing the training is well versed in the subjects being taught and demonstrates competent teaching skills, they can serve as an instructor for this training. Additionally, if such instructor covers the subjects listed in Section (q)(i) - (iv) and the students demonstrate their knowledge through testing, we can then, as a company, certify the students as being trained.

Would you please advise me if this is a correct interpretation of the regulation as it applies to us?


BP Oil Co.
K. L. Artz
Training Coordinator