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.

August 14, 1992

The Honorable Strom Thurmond
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Thurmond:

This is in response to your inquiry of July 23, on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Leroy Howard (case number 2202220011), concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA), Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.120.

Your constituent's letter requests information on training and medical requirements for hazardous waste workers. Under 1910.120 the employer is required to ensure that employees are properly trained and equipped to perform their assigned job duties safely.

Employers are required to provide hazardous waste training to those employees who require it without cost to the employee. Further, employers are required to pay employees during the training period. A new employee who had been previously certified as trained would still require site-specific training.

Employers have several options for ensuring that their employees are adequately trained. Some employers develop their own inhouse training programs. Others utilize outside training programs. For example, many private consultants offer HAZWOPER training courses. Some unions run training programs or provide cost reductions for their members.

Furthermore, the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has overseen the development of hazardous waste training programs by nonprofit organizations funded by grants authorized by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986. For information on training and education programs developed under this grant program, you may contact NIEHS directly:

Worker Education and Training Branch
Occupational Health & Technical Services
NIEHS, North Campus, Building 18, Room 1810
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709

Telephone: (919) 541-0217

Mr. Howard also inquired about medical requirements for hazardous waste workers, and specifically inquired about job restrictions related to his artificial eye. Section (f) of 1910.120 contains requirements for a medical surveillance program for certain hazardous waste site workers. As part of this program employers must provide a medical examination, without cost to the employee, prior to assignment for all employees who may be exposed to hazardous substances or health hazards at or above the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits for 30 or more days a year and all employees who are to wear a respirator for 30 or more days a year. The physician must be provided with a copy of this standard, a description of the employee's duties as they relate to exposure, the employee's anticipated exposure levels, and a description of personal protective equipment to be used. The employer must obtain a physician's written opinion that includes:

A. The physician's opinion as to whether the employee has any detected medical conditions which would place the employee at increased risk of material impairment of the employee's health from work in hazardous waste operations or emergency response, or from respirator use.

B. The physician's recommended limitations upon the employees assigned work.

Mr. Howard also requested information about hazardous waste site locations. The Environmental Protection Agency would have a complete listing of hazardous waste clean-up sites. This information can be obtained by calling the Superfund/RCRA Hotline at 1-800-424-9346.

In addition, the State of South Carolina may be able to provide detailed information on hazardous waste clean-up job sites in your constituent's area. Further, South Carolina operates its own Federally-approved Occupational Safety and Health program, which would have information on sites they have inspected in your constituent's area. They may be contacted at the following address and phone number:

South Carolina Department of Labor
3600 Forest Drive
Post Office Box 11329
Columbia, South Carolina 29211-1329

Telephone: (803) 734-9594

Your constituents last question concerned a Baltimore, Maryland firm called Mid-Atlantic Remediation and Referral Services. We have no information on this establishment. The State of Maryland operates its own Federally-approved Occupational Safety and Health program. The Maryland State program may have information or an inspection history on this organization. They may be contacted at the following address and phone number:

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry
Department of Licensing and Regulation
501 Saint Paul Place, 2nd Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21202-2272

Telephone: (410) 333-4179

We hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. We are enclosing a booklet on Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response for your constituent. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us at (202) 523-8036.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs