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 13, 1992

Mr. Doug O'Donovan
Marine Spill Response Corporation
1350 I Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. O'Donovan: This is in response to your inquiry of January 10, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) final rule, 29 CFR 1910.120.

You have asked OSHA to concur with several of the Marine Spill Response Corporation's (MSRC) interpretations on the HAZWOPER standard. We will respond to them in the order that you presented them:

  1. In its response to oil spills in the marine environment, MSRC will be involved in "emergency response operations" as described in 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(1)(v). For this reason, MSRC is subject to the requirements of subsection (q) of the HAZWOPER standard, as stated in 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(2)(iv). Accordingly, a 24 hour HAZWOPER training course is appropriate for MSRC hazardous materials technicians, hazardous materials specialists and on-scene incident commanders. All MSRC personnel who will be involved with emergency response operations on-scene will receive at least this minimum level of training.

    MSRC is subject to the requirements of paragraph 1910.120(q) of HAZWOPER for emergency responses to oil spills, and paragraphs 1910.120(b) through 1910.120(o) of HAZWOPER for post-emergency response clean up. Paragraph 1910.120(q) requires that hazardous materials technicians receive 24 hours of first responder operations level training and have competency in the areas listed. Therefore, depending on an employee's competencies, more than 24 hours may be required.
  2. Persons who provide HAZWOPER training for "emergency response" are required under paragraph 1910.120(q)(7) to complete a training course on subjects they are expecting to teach, or have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to demonstrate proficiency as an instructor in these subjects. MSRC trainers need and will receive 40 hours of training in HAZWOPER subjects to meet this requirement in addition to basic instructor and curriculum development training.

    We concur, and stress that trainers have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to convey the material they will be expected to teach.
  3. To meet the requirements of paragraph 1910.120(q)(8), MSRC will provide annually 8 hours of refresher training of sufficient content and duration to maintain MSRC responder competencies.

    OSHA agrees that MSRC employees involved in emergency response procedures involving hazardous substances must receive refresher training "of sufficient content and duration to maintain their competencies." In addition, MSRC may ask their employees to "demonstrate competency in those areas at least yearly" in place of the refresher training course.
  4. Should MSRC become involved in "post-emergency response operations," 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(11) would apply (Post-emergency response operations relating to oil spills would be activities associated with shoreline cleanup). Paragraph 1910.120(q)(11), which requires compliance with 1910.120(b) through 1910.120(o), has been effectively amended by OSHA Instruction [CPL 02-02-051]. For oil spills, [CPL 02-02-051] states that, for post-emergency response workers, "a minimum of 4 hours [of training] would be appropriate in most situations." Accordingly, a 4 hour course will be developed or adopted for "post-emergency response" workers who are used only in beach cleanup operations in situations where exposures are within permissible exposure limits and health risks from skin absorption are minimal. In addition, MSRC employees who will be placed in situations involving the management and supervision of beach cleanup personnel will receive the necessary training to meet the "management and supervisor training" requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(4).

    OSHA Instruction [CPL 02-02-051], "Inspection Guidelines for Post-Emergency Response Operations Under 29 CFR 1910.120" establishes that fewer than 24 hours of training may be appropriate for job duties and responsibilities with a low magnitude of risk, and sets a minimum of 4 hours of training.

    Washington state, under the authority given to it by federal OSHA, chose to issue its own directive entitled "Inspection Guidelines for Post-Emergency Response Operations," (WRD 91-1). The most obvious difference between the Federal OSHA directive and the Washington State directive regarding post-emergency response operations is the number of minimum training hours for employees who are performing low risk job duties at an oil spill clean up. Federal OSHA requires a minimum of 4 hours, whereas Washington state requires an 8 hour minimum.

    These are minimum requirements; industries will find it difficult to cover all topics listed in the training requirements in the minimum allowable time. The "competencies" to be covered during Federal OSHA training sessions will probably require more than 4 hours, and the "mandatory requirements" to be covered for the Washington State training sessions will probably demand more than 8 hours. (please find a copy of both directives enclosed)

You asked OSHA to review MSRC's approach to training development. As you are aware, OSHA will not certify individuals or approve training programs. until the final version of the standard "Accreditation of Training Programs for Hazardous Waste Operations" (29 CFR 1910.121) is published. In the meantime, [I]t is the employer who must show by documentation or certification that an employee's work experience and/or training meets the requirements in HAZWOPER. There must be a written document which clearly identifies the employee, the person certifying the employee, and the training and/or past experience which meets the requirements.

The standard entitled "Accreditation of Training Programs for Hazardous Waste Operations" (29 CFR 1910.121), is currently in rule making. You may want to monitor the progress of this new standard and anticipate needed changes in your training and certification programs to ensure continued compliance. Please find a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking enclosed.

The training programs required to be accredited under this proposed regulation are found in HAZWOPER, paragraphs 1910.120(e) and 1910.120(p). These training programs are required for employees involved in clean-up operations required by a governmental body involving hazardous substances; corrective actions involving cleanup operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); voluntary clean up operations at sites recognized by a governmental body; and operations involving hazardous waste that are conducted at RCRA permitted treatment storage and disposal (TSD) facilities. Currently, 1910.121 does not propose to accredit training programs for employees engaged in emergency response activities, however, the decision has not been made yet whether this will be a requirement of the final standard.

[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).]

A general suggestion from Ms. Prueitt's observation at the Williamsburg train-the-trainer session, is to communicate information specific to the hazards MSRC employees may face. Much of the material covered was historical, conceptual, or simplified. The course needed to be brought to life by giving trainees information that is more pertinent to their work, for example, and/or by using the instructor's experiences from the field. For example, the training on toxicology tended to convey academic information on obscure hazardous substances, easily forgotten and misunderstood. The instruction on toxicology could be made more relevant by breaking down the various grades of oil into toxic components, and teaching employees about the health and safety hazards of each toxic component.

Currently, MSRC seems to depend on people with past experience. Trainees with previous experience in oil spill recovery would probably be prepared to respond to an oil spill after attending the Williamsburg training course, although a novice to oil spills would not be equipped to respond. Developing the training program further and creating drills and exercises may help MSRC make use of unexperienced employees. OSHA requires that employer's train employees in the topics listed below. Employees that will serve as hazardous material technicians must have 24 hours of training equal to the first responder operations level, and competencies in:

  1. know how to implement the employer's emergency response plan.
  2. know the classification, identification and verification of known and unknown materials by using field survey equipment.
  3. be able to function within an assigned role in the ICS.
  4. * know how to select and use proper specialized chemical personal protective equipment provided.
  5. * understand hazard and risk assessment techniques. ,
  6. * be able to perform advance control, containment and/or confinement operations.
  7. * understand and implement decontamination procedures.
  8. * understand termination procedures.
  9. * understand basic chemical and toxicological terminology and behavior.

(* indicates the requirements for operations level training that are expanded for HAZMAT technicians.)

In general, training in Williamsburg instructed trainers to teach the topics that have an asterisk above, providing an operations level training. The first three topics (and "advance control, containment and/or confinement operations") were touched on, however MSRC needs to go further for hazardous materials level training.

You were also interested in a compliance directive due to be published soon. The [Office of Health Enforcement] expects to put out a directive, "Inspection Procedures and Interpretive Guidance for Emergency Responses to Hazardous Substance Releases," which will cover all aspects of emergency response, not just training. We will forward a copy on to your office when it is published.

[Correction 1/20/2005. This directive was published on 4/24/1998 as CPL 02-02-059 (formerly CPL 2-2.59A) titled "
Inspection Procedures for the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard, 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65, Paragraph (q): Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases".]

For assistance in developing training programs you may want to contact: the OSHA Training Institute at [(847) 297-4913], or OSHA Regional and State Offices (addresses and phone numbers are enclosed).

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


Patricia Clark, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 1/20/2005]