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 5, 1992

Ms. Marianne C. Bojan
14500 Avion Parkway
Suite 300
Chantilly, Virginia 22021-1101

Dear Ms. Bojan:

This is in response to your inquiry of March 11, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) training requirements for workers who will be involved in "site observations and writing reports and findings" at a hazardous waste site.

First, your letter requests concurrence with TechLaw's understanding of 29 CFR 1910.121. The standard you have cited is still a proposed rule, entitled "Accreditation of Training Programs for Hazardous Waste Operations." This proposed rule may require existing mandatory training courses to be accredited by OSHA when it becomes final. The docket has recently been reopened for comment on a specific survey regarding training for emergency responders, therefore the proposed rule will not be published as a final rule until the new comments have been analyzed.

Training at hazardous waste sites is required to be given (although not required to be accredited) by the "Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response" final rule (HAZWOPER), cited in the Code of Federal Regulations as 29 CFR 1910.120. Minimum training requirements for hazardous waste site workers are outlined in paragraph (e) of HAZWOPER: 40 hours of training and three days of supervised field experience is required for general site workers; 24 hours of training and one day of supervised field experience is required for workers who are on site only occasionally for a specific limited task who are unlikely to be exposed over permissible exposure limits (PELs) and published exposure limits; 24 hours of training and one day of supervised field experience is required for workers who are on site regularly and will only enter areas that have been fully characterized, indicating that exposures are under the PELs and published exposure limits. (Please find a copy of the HAZWOPER standard enclosed for more information.)

HAZWOPER does not apply to workers where there is no potential for exposure to hazardous substances found at a hazardous waste site. Paragraph (a), the scope the standard, states:

"This section [29 CFR 1910.120] covers the following operations, unless the employer can demonstrate that the operation does not involve employee exposure, or the reasonable possibility of employee exposure, to safety or health hazards."

For example, individuals who are off site and will not enter contaminated areas do not need to be trained in accordance with 1910.120(e). Personnel who work solely in offices or trailers next to the site would probably not need to be trained in accordance with HAZWOPER. However, these people should be made aware of the boundaries of exclusion, or "hot zones", and the places of refuge in case of an emergency.

Based on the information you gave us in your letter it is not possible for us to determine whether your employees require 24 hours of training in accordance with paragraph (e). However, subparagraphs 1910.120(e)(3)(ii) and (iii) give clear guidance as to which workers must be trained and how extensive their training should be.

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


Patricia Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs