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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.120; 1910.120(e); 1910.120(e)(2)(i); 1910.120(e)(3)(i); 1910.120(q); 1910.120(q)(6)(iii); 1910.120(q)(6)(iii)(D)

April 28, 2008

Mr. Robert E. Carson, CIH
Tetra Tech NUS Inc.
1920 Radcliff Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45204

Dear Mr. Carson:

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 a general site worker [29 CFR 1910.120(e)] and for a hazardous materials technician [29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(iii)]. 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 questions are rephrased below followed by OSHA's responses.

Background: Your letter states that you conduct a 40-hour class that is designed to meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3)(i) for general site workers engaged in hazardous substance removal. You also conduct a class designed to meet the requirements of paragraph 1910.120(q)(6)(iii) for emergency responders training to the hazardous materials technician level. You state that these two courses have similar lectures, labs, and class exercises.

Question 1: If training required under 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3)(i) for a general site worker for hazardous waste site cleanup is supplemented with requirements for a hazardous materials technician under 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(iii), could an individual qualify as a general site worker and hazardous materials technician under the same training program?

Response 1: No. Hazardous waste site cleanup training under HAZWOPER paragraph 1910.120(e) would not qualify a worker as a hazardous materials technician as described in 1910.120(q)(6)(iii) of the standard. The conditions under which these two types of personnel operate and the training they require are generally quite different.

Typically, a cleanup worker trained in accordance with paragraph 1910.120(e)(3)(i) is remediating a site after a hazardous substance release has occurred, and the location and level of hazardous substances on the site are well-characterized. A hazardous materials technician trained in accordance with paragraph 1910.120(q)(6)(iii), however, may operate close to the point of actively releasing hazardous substances, that have not been identified, for the purpose of stopping or controlling the release. Therefore, while some of the training topics addressed in paragraphs 1910.120(e) and 1910.120(q) may appear similar, the actual content and extent of the training would be different. For example, site cleanup worker's training that discusses the use of personal protective equipment, [1910.120(e)(2)(ii)], might seem comparable to the hazardous materials technician's 1910.120(q)(6)(iii)(D) competency to "know how to select and use proper specialized chemical personal protective equipment . . ." However, the site cleanup worker will likely be operating in a more controlled, predictable work environment than the hazardous material technician and, therefore, knowledge of the "use of personal protective equipment" may involve an understanding of donning and doffing assigned PPE where hazards are known. In contrast, a hazardous materials technician's competency in "knowing how to select and use. . .PPE" will require not only an understanding of donning and doffing procedures but also an ability to assess the appropriate type of PPE to use when hazardous materials are not well characterized and are being actively released.

Question 2: Would a "hybrid" course satisfy the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3)(i) and 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(iii)?

Response 2: See response to above question.

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


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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