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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.120


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.

October 28, 2010

Mr. David Halstead, Chairman
Florida State Emergency Response Commission
Division of Emergency Management
2555 Shumard Oak Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2100

Dear Mr. Halstead:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You requested OSHA's interpretation of training requirements under the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard, 29 CFR 1910.120. 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 question is paraphrased below, followed by our response.

Question: Is the International Association of Firefighters' (IAFF) 160-hour Hazardous Materials Technician Course (HMTC) recognized as meeting the OSHA minimum 40-hour training required under HAZWOPER for hazardous substance clean-up operations?

Response: Most workers engaged in hazardous substance clean-up operations must receive 40 hours of instruction and have actual field experience in accordance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120(e). The instruction training must cover safe work practices, the use of personal protective equipment, and other elements described in 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(2). The actual field experience must be under the direct supervision of a trained, experienced supervisor as described in 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3).

A worker trained as a hazardous materials technician for purposes of emergency response operations (see 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(iii)), including individuals trained in the IAFF's 160-hour HMTC, would not necessarily qualify as having been trained to perform clean-up operations under 29 CFR 1910.120(e). The conditions under which clean-up and response personnel operate and the training they require can be quite different. Clean-up workers generally are remediating a site after a hazardous substance release has occurred, whereas a hazardous materials technician operates close to the point of actively releasing substances for the purpose of stopping or controlling the release.

That said, a worker who has received hazardous materials technician level training, such as the IAFF's 160-hour HMTC, could perform clean-up operations if either:

  1. the specific technician training received meets the training requirements in paragraph (e), including thoroughly covering the elements described in paragraph (e)(2) and having actual field experience as described in paragraph (e)(3); or
  2. the technician training, in conjunction with any work experience the employee has, has resulted in training equivalent to that required in 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(1) through (e)(4).

Equivalent training under 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(9) provides: "Employers who can show by documentation or certification that an employee's work experience and/or training has resulted in training equivalent to that training required in paragraphs (e)(1) through (e)(4) of this section shall not be required to provide the initial training requirements of those paragraphs to such employees and shall provide a copy of the certification or documentation to the employee upon request."

It is important to note, however, that "certified employees or employees with equivalent training new to a site ... [must still] receive appropriate, site specific training before site entry and have appropriate supervised field experience at the new site." 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(9).

Please be aware that federal OSHA has no jurisdiction over state and local government employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act does, however, encourage states to assume responsibility for their own occupational safety and health programs under plans approved by federal OSHA. Such plans must extend coverage to state and local government employees. Although Florida does not have an OSHA-approved state plan, the Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated a standard applying OSHA's HAZWOPER Standard to state and local government employees in states where there is no OSHA-approved state plan program. See 40 CFR Part 311.

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,



Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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