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 21, 1992

Ms. Patricia K. Adams
Assistant Pollution Response Coordinator
Scandinavian Marine Claims Office, Inc.
Stamford Harbor Park
333 Ludlow Street
Post Office Box 120020
Stamford, Connecticut 06912-0020

Dear Ms. Adams:

This is in response to your inquiry of June 9, 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 training requirements for oil spill responders. Employees who will be expected to engage in tasks for which there is a potential for exposure to hazardous substances must receive appropriate training under 1910.120.

Responses to marine oil spills consist of two phases, which are covered by different sections of 1910.120. Paragraph (q) covers emergency response, and paragraphs (b) through (o) cover postemergency response. The 40 hour and 24 hour training requirements to which you refer in your letter would apply only to the post-emergency response (clean-up) phase. It is our understanding, from your June 22 telephone conversation with Sara Prueitt, that you were referring only to the potential involvement of your employees in post-emergency response (clean-up) operations, not emergency response operations.

During this phase, your employees do not need to receive training under 1910.120 if they will only be entering clean zones where there is little or no potential for exposure. Clean zones must first be designated through site monitoring and characterization conducted in compliance with the provisions of paragraph (c).

If it will be necessary for your employees to enter contaminated areas of the site in the course of their monitoring activities, they must receive appropriate training. In other hazardous waste clean-up situations, a minimum of 24 hours of training would be required for employees who would be on-site only occasionally. However, oil spill clean-up situations generally pose little risk of exposure, since the most toxic components of the oil volatilize quickly, generally before clean-up operations begin. Consequently, less than 24 hours of training is acceptable, with a minimum of four hours required. Washington State doubles Federal OSHA training requirements; a minimum of 8 hours of training for marine oil spill clean-up would be required there; please see enclosures.

As stated above, emergency response operations are covered under paragraph (q). Any of your employees who may potentially be exposed to the hazards of the initial emergency response during an oil spill must receive training under paragraph (q)(6). This paragraph describes five levels of training requirements for five distinct levels of emergency response activity and responsibility.

You ask specifically about training requirements for an attorney who may need to board a vessel to assist the Captain. If the attorney does not enter areas which would involve any potential for exposure to hazards from the oil spill, no training is required. The vessel itself, or parts of the vessel, might be considered a clean area even during an emergency response. An attorney who must enter contaminated areas during the emergency response phase would be considered skilled support personnel under (q)(4). Such employees are not required to receive training under (q)(6), but must be briefed prior to site entry. Required elements of the briefing are explained in paragraph (q)(4). If the attorney enters contaminated areas during the clean-up phase, the 4 hour minimum training requirement would apply as described earlier in this letter.

We have enclosed the Federal OSHA and Washington State postemergency response compliance directives for your convenience.

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


Patricia Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs