- Standard Number:
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 http://www.osha.gov.
March 7, 2007
Mr. Keith Gottsleben
Post Office Box 38
APG, EA, MD 21010-0038
Dear Mr. Gottsleben:
Thank you for your November 28, 2006 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) regarding training required by the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, 29 CFR 1910.120. Your specific questions relate to initial training and annual refresher training required for employees exposed to health hazards or hazardous substances at treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facilities. We have paraphrased your issue below and your specific questions are restated followed by our response. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.
Background: Your letter stated that the general attitude toward HAZWOPER refresher training is that one may regain HAZWOPER certification at any time, even if five years have elapsed since the last initial or refresher training, simply by taking a refresher course. Your letter also states that, in your opinion, after a period of roughly 18 months after the last HAZWOPER training, the appropriate way to gain a valid HAZWOPER certification is to repeat the initial course. In addition, the main point of contention is the use of the word "annual." While the term annual has always referred to a period of twelve months, some within my organization feel it is open to a broader interpretation.
Question: What is OSHA's stance on the term "annual"? Does this mean a period of twelve months, simply completing the course in consecutive calendar years, or just enrolling in HAZWOPER refresher training when the need to visit a TSD facility arises?"
Response: First, it is important to clarify that references in your letter to training requirements in 1910.120(e) are not appropriate for operations conducted at TSD facilities regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA). The training requirements of 1910.120(e) are specifically directed at employees involved in hazardous waste site clean-up operations or corrective actions, such as those conducted at EPA National Priority List sites, state prioritylist sites, or RCRA corrective action sites.
Operations conducted at TSD facilities are within the scope of 1910.120(a)(1)(iv) and must be conducted in compliance with paragraph (p) of HAZWOPER when they involve employee exposure or the reasonable possibility for employee exposure to safety or health hazards. If there is no reasonable possibility for employee exposure, then the HAZWOPER standard and its training requirements do not apply. Consequently, if employees you reference in your letter visit TSD facilities within the scope of HAZWOPER "on a sporadic basis" but face no exposure or no reasonable possibility of exposure to safety and health hazards, then they are exempt from the training requirements provided by 1910.120(p). These exempted employees should, however, be given a site-specific safety briefing and be made aware of procedures in case of an emergency incident.
In contrast, those employees with exposure or potential exposure to safety and health hazards at a TSD facility must receive training consistent with 1910.120(p)(7). The specified training for these employees includes an initial training of at least 24 hours to enable the employees to perform their assigned duties and functions in a safe and healthful manner so as not to endanger themselves or other employees. These employees must complete eight hours of refresher training annually. Further, training for emergency response consistent with 1910.120(p)(8)(iii), or alternatively 1910.38, must be provided to covered employees.
With regard to the meaning of "annual" refresher training, OSHA's intent is that employees complete their refresher training within twelve months of their initial training or previous refresher training. An employee who does not receive the refresher training by their one-year anniversary date should attend the next available refresher course. For personnel who have extended periods of lapsed refresher training, the employee's individual knowledge and retention of information must be considered in determining the required training or need to repeat the initial 24-hour HAZWOPER training. The time frame within which it would be necessary to provide extensive retraining for an individual must be evaluated and determined on a case-by-case basis. For example, a two-year absence from work at a TSD facility may not necessitate repetition of initial course training, in many cases. Completion of the 8 hours of refresher training by itself could be sufficient. An extended absence from the industry, however, would indicate a need for extensive retraining. In such cases the employer may wish to consider repeating the initial training course. Ultimately, employees must be trained sufficiently to allow them to perform their expected job duties in a safe and healthful manner.
As you may be aware, the Maryland Department of Labor administers an OSHA-approved state occupational safety and health program for both private and public sector employers and employees in Maryland. State plans are required to implement regulations that are "at least as effective" as the federal standards. Please note that some OSHA State Plan States specify that refresher training must be completed by the exact anniversary of the initial training. For specific Maryland OSHA requirements, we recommend that you contact the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry:
MOSH Compliance Unit
1100 North Eutaw Street, Room 611
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-2206
Telephone: (410) 767-2189
Fax: (410) 767-2003
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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 http://www.osha.gov.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs