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.

April 2, 1992

Mr. Jeff Upton
Post Office Box 244
Sciota, Pennsylvania 18354

Dear Mr. Upton:

This is in response to your letter of December 18, 1991, to your Congressman, the Honorable Don Ritter. Congressman Ritter transferred your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and asked us to respond directly to your concerns. As an employee of a hazardous waste transportation company, you asked to be advised of any hazardous material training requirements for such work.

Most of the responsibility for regulation of over-the-road vehicle operations belongs to the Department of Transportation. However, if your employer gives you responsibility to respond to emergency spills of hazardous substances or directs you to drive onto hazardous waste sites, you are covered by OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard (HAZWOPER), cited in the Code of Federal Regulation as 29 CFR 1910.120. When a truck driver, such as yourself, becomes involved in an emergency response involving hazardous substances, the driver is considered an emergency responder and is covered by HAZWOPER's paragraph (q).

Your employer must have an Emergency Response Plan prior to an accident if shipping a hazardous substance which during transportation could cause an emergency; for example, an accident on the road causing barrels containing hazardous material to split open. Your part in the employer's Emergency Response Plan may be as simple as alerting a designated Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) team to cleanup the hazardous material.

It is the employer's responsibility to provide you with the necessary training and equipment free of cost, given to you during paid time. Most drivers carrying hazardous materials will only need training to the first responder awareness level or the first responder operations level, described in HAZWOPER's subparagraph (q)(6). Training above these first two levels may be more technical than necessary, depending on the transportation company's expectations of the driver. OSHA stresses that employees must be trained to the appropriate level before performing emergency response operations. (Enclosed is a copy of HAZWOPER for a more technical perspective.)

Training for the "first responder awareness level" enables employees who are likely to witness releases of hazardous substances to recognize emergencies and notify authorities. The training class would cover an understanding of what their role is in the employer's Emergency Response Plan, who to contact in the event of an uncontrolled release and provides a basic understanding of hazardous materials and risks associated with them. Employees with this limited training must not attempt any actions themselves to control or clean up the release.

Employees trained to the "first responder operations level" may take defensive action only (such as diking or placing absorbent socks to prevent the spill from spreading) without trying to stop the release. The training course would cover basic hazard and risk assessment techniques, the selection and use of personal protective equipment, basic knowledge of containment and/or confinement operations, and basic procedures. If you are to drive onto the hot zone, also called the "exclusion zone," of a hazardous waste Site or to go close enough to actively fight a spill, additional training is required.

Congress passed the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA) of 1990, which concerns the handling of hazardous materials in the transportation industry. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is required to issue regulations within 18 months after the date of the enactment of HMTUSA. Training will be required

to be given by all HAZMAT employers to their HAZMAT employees regarding the safe loading, unloading, handling, storing and transporting of hazardous materials and emergency preparedness for responding to accidents or incidents involving the transportation of hazardous materials.

DOT is required to consult both EPA and OSHA to ensure that these training requirements do not conflict with OSHA regulations, in particular the HAZWOPER standard. You may contact DOT for information regarding hazardous materials transportation and, as requested in your letter, training that might enhance or improve your driving skills:

United States Department of Transportation Research and Special Programs Office of Hazardous Materials Safety Office of Hazardous Materials Standards 400 7th Street, SW Washington, DC 20590

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further question regarding HAZWOPER, please feel free to contact us at (202) 523-8036.


Dorothy L. Strunk
Acting Assistant Secretary


cc: The Honorable Don Ritter

February 11, 1992

Tadd Linsenmayer
Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Tadd:

I received the enclosed letter from my constituent, Jeff Upton. Jeff is a truck driver and works for a company that specializes in hauling hazardous waste and other hazardous substances. In his letter, he requests information on training requirements for such work.

Due to the technical nature of the subject, I would appreciate it if you would contact my constituent directly to respond to his inquiry.

I would appreciate it if you would also be so kind as to send a copy of your response to the attention of my Legislative Director, Jean Perih.

Thank you for your time.


Member of Congress

DR/jp Enclosure