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 20, 1991

Willard R. Kleckner, Ph.D
Manager of Consulting Services
Insurance Restoration Specialists
77 New Durham Road
Edison, New Jersey 08817

Dear Dr. Kleckner:

This is in response to your inquiry of May 21, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response final rule (29 CFR 1910.120). Please accept my apology for the delay in this reply.

Your specific question relates to your previous educational and professional experience qualifying you as an "on scene incident commander".

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not certify individuals as "equivalently trained". However, 1910.120 does make some provisions for the employer certifying an employee as "equivalently trained". Paragraph (e)(9) for hazardous waste sites permits employers to certify, as equivalently trained, employees, through the supervisory level. There are somewhat similar provisions for TSD sites set forth in paragraph (p). In both cases, refresher training must be received each year and the employees new to the site must receive appropriate site specific training.

Paragraph (q) which addresses training requirements for emergency responders is somewhat different. Previous education and experience may count towards some of the training requirements. But for Hazmat technicians, specialists and incident commanders the employer must certify competency in a number of areas specific to that employer and area. Consequently past training and experience alone would not be sufficient to meet all requirements. In addition refresher training or renewed demonstration of competency is required annually.

Your professional credentials are impressive. However, if you intend to serve as an on scene incident commander during an emergency response to the release of hazardous substance your past experience is not sufficient to count towards all of the training requirements, although it may be used to count towards some, if it has been documented. Your employer must afford you training and certify you in competencies where past training or experience is insufficient.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact MaryAnn Garrahan at (202) 523-8036.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

May 21, 1991

Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20210

Re: OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120 FR 54, pp 9294, et seq. Chemical Emergency Response Teams


I recently became associated with Insurance Restoration specialists (IRS) as their Manager of Consulting Services.

IRS is a New Jersey registered environmental contractor, and as such, becomes involved in clean-ups involving hazardous substances, in addition to designing, installing and monitoring site environmental remediation systems.

Prior to joining IRS, I was an independent environmental and safety engineer, being directly involved in the handling of hazardous substances since the fall of 1978. As a certified safety engineer of the American Society of Safety Engineers, I attended numerous courses dealing with hazardous waste, spills and management. Through the years, I have been called upon at both the federal and state levels to lend my expertise where needed.

Therefore, over the years, my training and expertise in hazardous waste and hazardous site situations has advanced far beyond the present 40 hour Health and Safety for Hazardous Waste Site Investigation personnel, beyond the Emergency Responder operations level and presently is more in line with your Incident Commanders level.

In addition to my present position as the Manager of Consulting Services, I am also charged with the Health and Safety Programs of the company under the title of Manager of Health and Safety. While wearing my H & S hat, I oversee the response units, mandate training, direct all company safety personnel, approve all H.A.S.P. and work very closely with all personnel involved with working at toxic or environmental remediation sites.

During a recent conversation with Congressman Dean A. Gallo, he suggested I send a letter to your offices for the purpose of attaining an initial waiver on the requirements presently contained in 29 CFR 1910.120, and further be certified at the Incident Commander level due to prior experience, training and field experience.

Should you desire additional information, or if there is a form that I need to complete, please advise me accordingly.



Willard R. Kleckner, Ph.D
Manager of Consulting Services