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.

July 14, 1992

Mr. W. Michael Kearney
Health and Environmental Manager
The Doe Run Company
Resource Recycling Division
Buick Facility Highway KK
Boss, Missouri 65440

Dear Mr. Kearney:

This is in response to your inquiry of April 6, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response final rule (HAZWOPER), 29 CFR 1910.120.

Your question concerns clarification on the applicability of the HAZWOPER standard to a clean-up operation at a solid waste management unit. Your company will be removing lead contaminated soil which you claim will pose "no exposure as defined by the OSHA lead standard, 1910.1025." Your letter indicated that there are exposures, although they are below the action level defined in 1910.1025.

Clean up activities, even though they are in locations away from the lead smelting refinery, are within the scope of 1910.120. The clean up activity you will be performing is considered a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) corrective action, which is discussed in HAZWOPER's scope in subparagraph (a)(1)(ii).

The HAZWOPER standard is unique in one of its provisions, 1910.120(a)(2)(i), states that when there is a conflict or overlap of coverage between HAZWOPER and another OSHA standard, the regulation that is more protective of employee safety and health applies. HAZWOPER does not completely supersede any standard, and single substance standards do not completely supersede HAZWOPER.

Certain provisions of the lead standard may be superseded if HAZWOPER offers more protection to employee safety and health. OSHA's compliance officers may cite the provisions of both standards, depending on which standard offers the more protective provision. For example, 1910.1025 provides instruction on exposure monitoring that gives the employer more direction than the guidance given in HAZWOPER.

OSHA does not intend the employer to duplicate efforts in complying with the standards. Safety and health programs developed to meet other regulations, such as the written Compliance Program required in 1910.1025, are acceptable in meeting the requirements of HAZWOPER if the program is added to or rewritten to include all of the points required in HAZWOPER's written Safety and Health Program. Parts of the training given to employees in order to comply with the lead standard may be considered "equivalent training," as long as all of the topics required to be conveyed to employees in (e) are covered.

A written site safety and health plan is required by HAZWOPER in paragraph (b), and guidance for characterizing and evaluating the hazards on site is given in paragraph (c). Employees are not required to be trained in accordance with paragraph (e) if an area in the site has been monitored and characterized, demonstrating that no exposure exists around the work area. If an event occurs that may change the level of exposure, or if monitoring results change, then the safety and health plan which is specific to a designated part of the site or a phase of the operation must be reevaluated and modified to comply with the HAZWOPER standard.

The site characterization by the Doe Run Company must show that "the operation does not involve employee exposure or the reasonable possibility for employee exposure," as specified in the scope of 1910.120, to warrant exclusion from HAZWOPER. When there is an indication that exposures have risen, as when excavation uncovers a section of earth that contains high levels of lead for example, the Doe Run Company must reexamine the site's operations to fully comply with HAZWOPER and notify employees of any changes.

Where there is a likelihood of exposure, but such exposure is under permissible exposure limits or published exposure limits and respirators are not necessary, employees must receive 24 hours of training and one day of actual field experience. This requirement may apply to the clean-up operation which you described since there is lead exposure which does not exceed the PEL. Based on the information in your letter, it is not possible for us to determine whether your employees require 24 hours of training in accordance with paragraph (e).

Workers in areas that have been characterized by a competent person as having no reasonable possibility of exposure and who therefore are not required to have HAZWOPER training may be covered by other OSHA standards, such as the Hazard Communication standard.

We appreciate your concern with worker safety and health and your genuine effort in complying with HAZWOPER. We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us at (202) 523-8036.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs