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.

June 17, 1993

Mary Greenhalgh
Associate, ENVIRON Corporation
210 Carnegie Center, Suite 201
Princeton, New Jersey 08540

Dear Ms. Greenhalgh:

Thank you for your letter of January 22, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.120.

In your letter you question whether an outside HAZMAT emergency response team may be permitted access to all areas of a hazardous waste site in an emergency response action. It is OSHA's position that off-site responders responding to a hazardous substance emergency at a hazardous waste site be trained to handle the potential hazards of any area of a site that they may be asked to enter. Off-site emergency responders are subject to the requirements of paragraph (q).

Training under paragraph (q)(6) "shall be based on the duties and function to be performed by each responder of an emergency response organization." The employer of the HAZMAT team must ensure that its employees are adequately trained in the hazards of the site to safely perform their emergency response duties. A HAZMAT team that has been adequately trained under paragraph (q) does not need the 40-hour or 24-hour training specified in paragraph (e) of the standard in order to respond to hazardous substance emergencies at a hazardous waste site.

The OSHA required safety and health training has two components; one is to provide a general background and the other is to provide site-specific information. The HAZMAT team members' extensive previous training would fulfill the general health and safety training requirements. The hazardous materials technician level of training requires that the employee knows how to implement the HAZMAT team's emergency response plan, and this must include site-specific information for each of the sites for which the HAZMAT team has been designated to respond.

If the briefing adequately covers all of the site-specific elements of the training requirements, then the HAZMAT team's training is sufficient to enable them to safely perform emergency response operations on all areas of the hazardous waste site.

However, based on the information presented in your letter it is not possible for OSHA to determine whether the briefing given to the HAZMAT team is sufficient for them to safely perform emergency response operations in all areas of the hazardous waste site.

Emergency responses at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites can be very dangerous and unpredictable; emergency preplanning is essential to ensure that outside responders are familiar with the relevant site-specific information. OSHA requires employers to coordinate their emergency planning and response activities with the local authorities. In addition, the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), Title III, contains requirements for facilities to share information on hazardous chemicals on site with the local emergency planning committee. This coordination should take place before an emergency incident occurs, and the members of the HAZMAT team must be trained to handle any site- specific hazards to which they have been designated to respond.

It is the responsibility of the HAZMAT team employer to comply with OSHA standards. Thus employers should determine to the extent feasible, worst-case clean-up scenarios (i.e., those with the highest safety and health risk) in which employees may be asked to participate and train them accordingly. Again, HAZMAT team members must be trained to handle the potential hazards of any area of a site that they might be asked to enter.

This is the Federal OSHA interpretation of the HAZWOPER Standard. For your information, Federal OSHA jurisdiction is limited to private sector employees in those states that do not have OSHA State-plans. Under section 18(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, States may elect to administer their own program for occupational safety and health. State-plan states cover both private and public sector workers. (Enclosed is a listing of the State-plan states.) In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for enforcing their HAZWOPER standard to protect public employees in those states that do not have OSHA State-plans. For example, the EPA standard would be applicable to public emergency response organizations in the state of New Jersey, while Federal OSHA would have jurisdiction over private HAZMAT teams in that state. For further information on the EPA standard you can call 908-321-6724 or fax 908-321- 6724.

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please contact us at (202) 219-8036.


Ruth McCully, Director
Office of Health Compliance Assistance

January 22, 1993


Ms. Maryann Garrahan
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and
Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Room N-3468
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Ms. Garrahan:

I would like to request your determination regarding the following situation relating to emergency response at Superfund sites. The local HAZMAT team is trained to at least the technician level in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.120(q), and in fact each member of the team has a minimum of 120 hours of training (most members have 400 plus hours of training). However, they do not have the specific 40-hour training required by (e) for hazardous waste site workers. The team has been briefed as to the specific hazards of the Site. Please advise as to whether they are allowed access to all areas of the Site in the event their emergency response assistance becomes necessary.

Very truly yours,

Mary Greenhalgh