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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.120(q); 1910.120(q)(6); 1910.120(q)(6)(ii); 1910.120(q)(6)(iii); 1910.120(q)(8)

July 25, 2007

Mr. Ron Snyder
Program Director
Midwest OSHA Education Center
Kirkwood Community College
6301 Kirkwood Blvd., SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406

Dear Mr. Snyder:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). Your letter inquired about the requirements for annual refresher training under OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, 29 CFR 1910.120(q). 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. Your paraphrased question and our reply are below.

Scenario: In your letter you asked whether a certain 8-hour agricultural training program that Kirkwood Community College offers to emergency responders satisfies the refresher training requirements for operations and technician level personnel in OSHA's HAZWOPER standard.

Response: The HAZWOPER standard requires employers to provide training to employees who provide emergency response services during releases of hazardous substances, 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6). The level of training the employer must provide depends on the role the employee will perform in a response. Employees must be trained to the first responder operations level if they will be part of the initial response for the purpose of protecting persons, property, or the environment from the effects of the hazardous substance release. Employees who respond for the purpose of actually stopping the release must be trained as hazardous materials technicians. Responders at the operations level must receive at least eight hours of training or have sufficient experience to objectively demonstrate certain competencies listed in the HAZWOPER standard. Hazardous materials technicians must receive at least 24 hours of training at the operations level and satisfy certain additional competencies listed in the standard. See 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(ii) and 1910.120(q)(6)(iii). In addition, the HAZWOPER standard requires that operations and technician level employees "receive annual refresher training of sufficient content and duration to maintain their competencies, or shall demonstrate competency in those areas at least yearly." 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(8).

While OSHA does not test, approve, certify, or endorse any equipment, product, or procedure, including training courses, we have reviewed the course outline in your letter, and it appears that the training program you describe could be suitable refresher training for first responder operations level and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) technician personnel who are responsible for responding to agricultural emergencies if it is of sufficient content and duration to permit enrollees to maintain their required competencies.

It is important to note that training required under 1910.120(q) is dependent upon the anticipated duties and functions of the responder. Training and competencies must be consistent with each employee's anticipated role. For example, while the course topics you outlined could be suitable for operations level or HAZMAT technician refresher training, they may not provide proper refresher training for personnel assigned as incident commanders, i.e., individuals who assume control of the incident scene.

Furthermore, an employee trained as a HAZMAT technician for responses to agricultural emergencies may not be adequately trained to respond to other types of emergencies, e.g., chemical releases or spills.

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.


Richard E. Fairfax
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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