- 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.
December 4, 2007
Mr. Don Howard, Town Administrator
Town of Windsor
P.O. Box 47
29 Union Street
Windsor, VT 05089
Dear Mr. Howard:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You have requested OSHA's interpretation of the training requirements of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, 29 CFR 1910.120, as they apply to one of the employees of the Town of Windsor. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not detailed in your original correspondence. The scenario you presented and our reply are below.
Scenario: Your letter states that the Town of Windsor (VT) is in the construction phase of a project where hazardous waste must be trucked to a nearby stockpiling area. A Town employee will drive an air-conditioned Town truck, with the windows rolled up, and will not leave the truck during the hauling operation. You also indicated that the contractor for the project has a health and safety plan in place for the handling of the contaminated soils and there will be a meeting to brief their own employees, as well as the Town employee driving the truck. Lastly, you state that the Town employee has completed Hazardous Materials Operator Training 2 through the State of Vermont's Fire Academy that will satisfy equivalency training for the transporting of hazardous waste to the stockpiling area. Your question asks whether the training provided to the Town employee satisfies the equivalent training requirements specified in 1910.120(e)(9).
Response: The HAZWOPER standard covers those clean-up operations defined in the standard under paragraphs 1910.120(a)(1)(i) through 1910.120(a)(1)(iii). Paragraph 1910.120(a)(1)(iv) is reserved for work operations at a TSD facility, and paragraph 1910.120(a)(1)(v) is for activities involving emergency responses to hazardous substances. Furthermore, even if the operation falls within the scope of the HAZWOPER standard, the standard does not apply if "the employer can demonstrate that the operation does not involve employee exposure or the reasonable possibility for employee exposure to safety or health hazards" [1910.120(a)(1)]. You stated that the Town employee driving the truck may not have any exposure to safety or health hazards at the site. If so, and there is no reasonable possibility that he or she will be exposed to hazards, the standards training requirement would not apply.
However, if the Town employee is not excluded from coverage as discussed above, he or she must receive initial training consistent with 1910.120(e) or be equivalently trained to a level consistent with their job function and responsibility. With respect to the equivalent training provision of 1910.120(e)(9), OSHA does not certify individuals as properly or equivalently trained. Rather, it is the employer who must show by documentation or certification that an employee's work experience and/or training has resulted in training equivalent to that outlined in paragraphs 1910.120(e)(1) through 1910.120(e)(4) and, thus, meets the initial training requirements. Further, all employees certified as equivalently trained per 1910.120(e)(9) must still receive appropriate site-specific training before site entry and have appropriate supervised field experience at the site. These employees would also be required to have 8 hours of refresher training annually.
It is important to note that the training required by 1910.120(e) for employees working at hazardous waste cleanup sites differs from the training required for employees who respond to emergency releases of hazardous substances under 1910.120(q). You state that the Town employee has completed "Hazardous Materials Operator Training 2 through the State of Vermont's Fire Academy." The title of this training suggests that it is intended for employees who respond to emergency releases at the first responder operations level, 1910.120(q)(6)(ii). It should be understood that training under paragraph 1910.120(q) is not normally considered to be "equivalent" to training under paragraph 1910.120(e) because of the different types of work and potential hazards that they cover. However, based on the scenario you provided to us, it appears the Town employee has little or no exposure to hazardous substances and the "Hazardous Materials Operator Training 2" course may cover the necessary 1910.120(e) topics required for the employee's limited role as a truck driver. If this is the case (and, again, it is the employer's responsibility to document the employee's exposure and need for training), then the employee would be able to perform his or her job safely and certification as equivalently trained would be appropriate. The employer must retain a written document which clearly identifies the employee, the person certifying the employee as equivalently trained, the certifier's qualifications, and the training and/or past experience which meets the training requirements.
As you are aware, the State of Vermont operates its own occupational safety and health program under a plan approved by Federal OSHA. Under this plan, the Vermont Department of Labor promulgates and enforces occupational safety and health standards under authority of State law, and posts them on its website at http://labor.vermont.gov/?tabid=74. Vermont OSHA also extends its coverage to State and local government employees, such as the Town of Windsor. Although some of Vermont's standards are different, both its standards and interpretations must be at least as effective as Federal OSHA's. For information on the Vermont HAZWOPER standard and its enforcement, we suggest that you contact:
Mr. Robert McLeod, VOSHA Compliance Program Manager
National Life Building – Drawer 20
1 National Life Drive
Montpelier, Vermont 05620-3401
Telephone: (802) 828-2765
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 may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the OSHA Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs