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.

October 27, 1992

William Holzhauer
Corporate Counsel
Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.
300 Erie Boulevard
West Syracuse, New York 13202

Dear Mr. Holzhauer:

This is in response to your inquiry of September 14, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.120.

Your first question concerns clarification on the application of the standard to investigative and remedial activities conducted on the initiative of your corporation. We addressed the issue of voluntary clean-up operations in a memorandum dated July 16, 1990, to John Miles, Regional Administrator:

The term "recognized by a government body" means the hazardous waste site has been acknowledged by a government agency in writing, or the agency would be willing to acknowledge in writing that the site contains hazardous substances as defined in 29 CFR 1910.120.

Therefore, your Consent Order constitutes recognition by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and all sites recognized in the Consent Order would be considered voluntary clean-up operations covered by 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(iii), whether the Consent Order had been finalized or not. Your second question asked about the application of the standard to employees on hazardous waste sites who are not engaged in hazardous waste clean-up activities. All employees on a hazardous waste site who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances found on the site would be covered by the standard and require training as described in 29 CFR 1910.120(e).

The employer must conduct a thorough and ongoing site characterization and analysis as addressed in paragraph (c) of the standard. As a result of this process the employer is able to designate contaminated areas, or "hot" zones, and uncontaminated areas where no special training or personal protective equipment are required.

Therefore, utility workers entering contaminated areas of the site to conduct construction or maintenance activities would require training under paragraph (e) of the standard. Office workers, if they did not enter contaminated areas of the site, would not need to be trained under HAZWOPER.

However, they would need to be made aware of the boundaries of the hot zone as well as the emergency response provisions (i.e., evacuation procedures) of the site safety and health plan (required under paragraph (b) of the standard).

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please contact [the OSHA Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850].



Roger Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs

[Corrected 6/11/07]