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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.
March 4, 1993
Mr. Thomas J. Baginski
Maryland Fire-Rescue and Training Commission
16 Francis Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Dear Mr Baginski:
This is in response to your inquiry of January 5, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.120. Your questions concern clarification on training for firefighters.
OSHA has the following response to your concerns. We will address your questions in the order presented in your letter.
1. With the changes in NFPA472, 1992 Edition, would a member trained to the various levels of NFPA472 beet the requirements of the OSHA 1910 Standard?
With the exception of the "Hazardous Materials Specialist" level, the 1992 edition of NFPA472, Standard for Professional Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials Incidents, published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), specifies training requirements which are equivalent to those Specified in OSHA's HAZWOPER regulation for the various training levels.
Please bear in mind that the NFPA guidelines do not list training competencies for the "Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Specialist" level described in paragraph (q)(6)(iv) of 1910.120. Therefore for the Specialist level, the requirements of paragraph (q)(6)(iv) must be met. It is possible that not all HAZMAT teams would need members trained to the specialist level.
2. Is it correct that a local jurisdiction can define and train its personnel to the various levels of awareness, operations, and technician? It can then define in its operational procedures how these personnel will be assigned on an incident.
It is the responsibility of the individual employer, in this case the local firefighting jurisdiction, to ensure that personnel are adequately trained to perform their assigned job duties safely.
The local jurisdiction should determine what the expected job duties will be for each employee, and then train each individual accordingly. If there are any job duties that are not addressed by the NFPA training program, the employer would need to ensure that the employee was able to demonstrate competency in these additional duties before being called upon to perform them, and provide additional training if necessary. Personnel roles must be assigned as part of the written emergency response plan required in paragraph (q)(8)(ii) of the HAZWOPER regulation.
Therefore, you are correct that the local jurisdiction can define the job duties and train its personnel accordingly to the various levels, and then define in its written operating procedures how these personnel are to be assigned in an incident, as long as the responsibilities assigned are consistent with the training requirements.
As you are probably aware, the state of Maryland operates its own OSHA-approved state safety and health program. Regulations enforced by the Maryland state plan must provide worker protection which is at least as effective as OSHA standards, but may be more strict. Further, the Maryland state safety and health program extends its coverage to include employees of the state and local governments. Therefore the appropriate source of interpretations regarding safety and health regulation in the state of Maryland is the state program. They may be contacted at:
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. If you have any further questions please contact us at (202) 219-8036.
Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs