March 14, 2012
Mr. David Gulliver
Hulcher Services Inc.
61 1 Kimberly Drive
P.O. Box 271
Denton, TX 76202-0271
Dear Mr. Gulliver:
Thank you for your December 29,201 1, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You requested clarification of OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard, 29 CFR 1910.120, as it applies to clearing and re-railing train cars after derailment situations. Your questions are paraphrased below, followed by our responses. 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.
Question 1: Do derailment response operations fall under paragraph (q) of the HAZWOPER standard?
Response: Yes. Train car derailment response operations, where there is an emergency response to a release (or a substantial threat of a release) of hazardous substances, would be covered by the HAZWOPER standard paragraph (q, Emergency response. [29 CFR 1910.120(a)(2)(iv)].
Question 2: Are the members of a crew responsible only for clearing and/or re-railing train cars during an emergency response operation considered skilled support personnel? Is there a required level of training for personnel who direct skilled support personnel?
Response: Skilled support personnel are workers skilled in the operation of certain equipment (such as cranes and hoisting equipment), and who are needed temporarily to perform immediate emergency support work that cannot reasonably be performed in a timely fashion by an employer's own employees, and who will (or may) be exposed to the hazards at an emergency response scene. [29 CFR 1910.120(q)(4)]. The crews you describe in your letter meet this definition. The HAZWOPER standard does not require any specific training for personnel who direct skilled support workers. Assuming the personnel who direct the skilled support workers are not performing any additional duties related to the response operations, they would need only the same training as the skilled support workers they are directing. [29 CFR 1910.120(q)(4)].
Question 3: Are earth moving and collecting operations to control the spread of released hazardous substances, control exposures, and protect the environment during rail car clearing or re-railing operations considered actions that can be performed by skilled support personnel?
Response: No. Workers engaged in operations designed to protect nearby persons, property, or the environment are first responders at the operations level and must have a minimum of 8 hours of training in, or have had sufficient experience to objectively demonstrate competency in, the elements of both first responder awareness level training and first responder operations level training. [29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(i) and (ii)].
Question 4: Must members of HAZMAT teams who take aggressive actions to stop the release of hazardous substances meet the training requirements for hazardous materials technicians?
Response: Yes. Hazardous materials technicians are workers that assume a more aggressive role than a first responder at the operations level in that they will approach the point of release in order to stop the release of a hazardous substance. Hazardous materials technicians must have a minimum of 24 hours of training at the first responder operations level and have competency in additional areas specified in 29 CFR 1910.12O(q)(6)(iii)(A)-(I).
Question 5: Does the HAZWOPER standard's 40-hour training requirement apply on train derailments if there is a need for post-emergency clean-up operations?
Response: Post-emergency response operations are governed by 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(11). That provision provides that employers generally must comply with paragraphs (b) through (o) of the HAZWOPER standard (including paragraph (e) regarding training) if they are conducting clean-up work after completion of an emergency response to remove hazardous substances, health hazards, and contaminated materials from the site. [29 CFR 1910.120(q)(11)(i)].1 Paragraph (e) establishes training requirements for employees on the post-emergency clean-up site who are exposed to hazardous substances, health hazards, or safety hazards, their supervisors, and the managers responsible for the site. [29 CFR 1910.120(e)(1)]. General site workers (such as equipment operators and general laborers) who are engaged in hazardous substance removal or other activities that expose (or potentially expose) them to hazardous substances and health hazards must receive 40 hours of off-site training and 3 days of supervised field experience. [29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3)(i)]. Please note, however, that different training requirements apply to other employees and supervisors/managers at the site. [29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3)(ii), (iii) and (e)(4)].
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.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs