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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.120(q)(6)


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.


May 18, 2001

Mr. Daniel E. Schmidt
Manager of Health and Safety
Pinkerton Automotive Service Division
Mail Code 422-C22-A96
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265-3000

Dear Mr. Schmidt:

Thank you for your March 9 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) [Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP)]. Please be aware that this response may not be applicable to any questions or scenarios not delineated within your original correspondence and our subsequent phone discussion. You have two questions regarding the training requirements under the hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER) standard, 29 CFR 1910.120. Our answers to your paraphrased questions are provided below.

Scenario: In the event of a hazardous materials release, security guards evacuate workers and, from a safe remote location, control entry to/exit from the area of the release under the following conditions:

  • The security guards are the first to respond to or discover a hazardous material release.

  • All of their activities are done from outside the release area at a remote distance, until someone trained to the Incident Commander or Hazardous Materials Technician Level can determine the extent of the exclusion zone.

  • The employer's Emergency Response Plan (ERP) includes this as part of the site security's responsibilities as indicated in paragraph 1910.120(q)(6)(i)(E).

  • The security guards do not participate in any other duties to try and contain the release.

Question 1: Under the above circumstances, do security guards need to be trained to the First Responder Awareness Level or to the First Responder Operations Level?

Reply 1: From the information provided in your letter and a subsequent phone call, the responsibilities of your security guards upon discovery of a release requiring an emergency response are limited to activation of an alarm, notification of appropriate authorities, and controlling access to the release from a remote area. You also stated that the security guards do not perform rescue operations, assist in setting up the exclusion zone, or participate in trying to contain the release. Based upon this information, it appears that these employees would perform and need to be trained at the awareness level. First responders at the awareness level are employees who have been trained to initiate an emergency response sequence by notifying the authorities of the release, including alarm activation. They may also control entry to and exit from an emergency area from a safe distance.

As you noted in your letter, OSHA Directive [CPL 02-02-059 (formerly CPL 2-2.59A)],
Inspection Procedures for Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response Standard, 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65, Paragraph (q) Emergency Response to Hazardous Substances states that personnel expected to set up the exclusion zone must be trained to the operations level. However, once the exclusion zone is established, employees trained to the awareness level may control entry to and exit from the area. Employees trained to the awareness level must not assist in setting up safe distances because they lack knowledge regarding the potential for exposure, explosions, or radiation.

For additional clarification of OSHA's tiered approach to emergency response training, please see Section II of the preamble to the final HAZWOPER standard, available online at [
http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=PREAMBLES&p_id=1087]. In the discussion of paragraph 1910.120(q)(6), OSHA provides an example of a typical hazardous substance emergency response incident and describes the roles and responsibilities of each level of responder.

Question 2: If it is determined that their duties constitute a defensive action requiring operations level training, is it acceptable to leave out "basic decontamination procedures" training because their responsibilities do not include implementing or participating in decontamination operations?

Reply 2: As we indicated above, awareness level training appears to be acceptable for the functions you described. In response to Question 2, paragraph 1910.120(q)(6) requires that training be based on the duties and functions to be performed by each responder. Therefore, training in "basic decontamination procedures" at the operations level would not be necessary if a responder's responsibilities did not include implementing or participating in decontamination operations.

We recommend, however, that if a responder's training varies significantly from the topic areas listed in HAZWOPER, the training certificate indicate those variations. In the example you offered, a certificate could indicate that the employee has completed First Responder Operations Level training,consistent with 1910.120(q)(6)(ii), with the exception of decontamination training. This will help ensure that the employee and future employers will understand any limitations in the employee's training under 1910.120(q)(6)(ii).

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/. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the [Office of Health Enforcement] at (202) 693-2190.

Sincerely,


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 6/2/2005]


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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