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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
• Section: 3
• Title: Section 3 - III. Summary of the Final Regulatory Impact and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis and Environmental Impact Assessment

III. Summary of the Final Regulatory Impact and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis and Environmental Impact Assessment


Executive Order 12291 (46 FR 13197, February 19, 1981) requires that a regulatory impact analysis be conducted for any rule having major economic consequences for the national economy, individual industries, geographical regions, or levels of government. In addition, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L., 96-353, 94 Stat. 1164 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)) requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to determine whether a regulation will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.) requires the agency to assess the environmental consequences of regulatory actions.

In order to comply with these requirements, OSHA has prepared a final Regulatory Impact and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (RIA) for the hazardous waste operations and emergency response standard. This analysis includes a profile of the industries that will be affected, the estimated number of employees who are at risk from occupational exposures to hazardous wastes, technological feasibility, costs, benefits, and an overall economic impact of the standard. The RIA is available in the OSHA Docket Office.


The primary sources of information used for this analysis are: an April 1987 report by the Eastern Research Group (ERG) entitled, "Preparation of Data to Support a Regulatory Analysis and Environmental Assessment of the Proposed Standard for Working at Hazardous Waste Sites:" and the comments supplied in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the comments made during the public hearings, and the post-hearing comments and submissions. The information contained in the ERG report was gathered from the Environmental Protection Agency sources, industry sources, experts in the area of hazardous waste management, etc. Consequently, OSHA believes that it has given due notice to all responsive parties and that the data used are the best available data for this final Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA).


The standard will affect about 20,000 uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, about 4,000 hazardous waste operations conducted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, about 13,600 spills of hazardous materials that occur annually outside a fixed facility, and about 11,000 spills of hazardous material that occur annually inside a fixed facility. The firms that will be affected by this standard are as follows: about 50 contractors that perform hazardous waste site cleanups, about 100 engineering or technical services firms that perform hazardous waste preliminary assessments or site investigations and remedial investigations or feasibility studies for hazardous waste site cleanups, about 300 RCRA-regulated commercial treatment, storage and disposal facilities; about 3,700 RCRA-regulated facilities that are operated by a hazardous waste generator; about 19,000 state and local police departments; about 28,000 fire departments; about 750 private hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response teams; and about 22,000 manufactures that use in-house personnel to respond to emergency spills of hazardous materials within the facility.


As many as 1,758 million employees, police officers, and firefighters may be at risk from exposure to hazardous waste or to hazardous materials during an emergency response to a hazardous material spill. Of these employees, about 14,000 work at uncontrolled hazardous waste site cleanups, 52,700 at RCRA-regulated facilities, 563,200 are police officers, 944,500 are firefighters, 7,500 are private HAZMAT members, and 176,000 are members of industrial fire brigades that provide in-plant emergency response to hazardous material spills. Most of these employees, however, do not work full-time around hazardous waste. In fact, most police officers will not face a hazardous material emergency response and most fire fighters and industrial fire brigade personnel, who are at risk, are annually exposed to hazardous materials for only a few hours.


The standard does not require the use of any large-scale capital equipment that is not currently used in normal work operations. In addition, each provision requires equipment and work practices that are currently available. Thus, OSHA has determined that the standard is technologically feasible.


This standard will protect 1,758 million employees, police officers and firefighters from health and safety hazards caused by their exposure to hazardous wastes. The benefits of this standard are quantified in Chapter 3 of the Final Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA). The RIA indicates that this standard will prevent 20 cancer deaths per year and from 6 to 20 deaths per year from cardiovascular, neurological, renal and liver disorders. The standard will also prevent 1,925 injuries per year involving 18,700 lost work days. The FRA also estimates that 6 fatalities that are not illness related will be prevented. That last figure is likely to be an underestimate. Individual incidents which are discussed in Chapter 3 and which may have been prevented by following the standard have sometimes led to more than 6 deaths. Also, the RIA does not take into account the benefits to the surrounding, non-worker community derived from the better handling of hazardous waste and emergency response incidents by the more qualified, properly trained and equipped response teams that are likely to result from compliance with this standard.

Chapter 3 of the RIA also presents risk rates. For example, the 17 excess cancer deaths per 1000 exposed hazardous waste workers for an occupational lifetime of exposure is likely to be reduced by 75 per cent.

OSHA concludes therefore, that this standard will substantially reduce the significant risk of material impairment of health which results from exposure to hazardous waste either at hazardous waste operations or from emergency response.

However, section 126 of SARA gives OSHA clear statutory directions to issue this standard and is reasonably explicit about what type of provisions should be included. Section 126 is also a free standing provision and not an amendment to the OSH Act. Accordingly, it evidences a legislative intent to issue these regulations without the specific need to quantify benefits and reach significant risk conclusions.


OSHA used current work practices as its baseline for estimating the cost of full compliance with the standard. This estimated cost does not include any cost that is currently being incurred by employers as part of their work practices because those work practices, and therefore those costs, would continue whether or not the final standard were promulgated.

OSHA estimated that the total annualized incremental cost of full compliance with the standard will be about $157,915 million, of which $28,435 million will be spend by contractors on government-mandated clean-ups of uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, $5,841 million will be spent by contractors on privately -- initiated hazardous waste site cleanups, $18,372 million will be spent by RCRA-regulated facility clean-ups and operations, $17,332 million will be spent by police departments, $50,553 million will be spent by fire departments, $4,226 million will be spent by private HAZMAT teams, and $33,156 million will be spent by industrial fire brigades. The provision with the largest annual cost of compliance is the employee training provision ($97,466 million), followed by the medical surveillance provision ($11,293 million), the use of escape self-contained breathing apparatus ($9,507 million), and the written plan to minimize employee exposure to hazardous materials during post-emergency clean-ups of hazardous materials spills ($8,381 million).


Most of the incremental cost of compliance will be paid by the government or the private firm responsible for the hazardous waste clean-up. OSHA calculated that it is economically feasible for every affected industry or group to comply with the standard. There may be an impact upon some labor markets as a consequence of the provision that only sufficiently experienced employees, or employees certified to have received the necessary training at an appropriate training facility, will be allowed to work on hazardous waste sites. This provision will effectively curtail the current practice of using local subcontractors to provide short-term employees for hazardous waste site clean-ups and limit the number of employees eligible to work at hazardous waste sites. This in turn, may increase future wage rates and the cost of hazardous waste site clean-ups.


Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, the Assistant Secretary has assessed the expected impacts of the standard on small entities. Based on the available information, OSHA determined that the standard may have some impact upon some small entities. The cost of adequately training an employee off-site prior to working at a hazardous waste site cleanup will substantially reduce the use of subcontractor labor on a one-time basis. Thus, some local subcontractors face a potential reduction in hazardous waste site cleanup work. The majority of this subcontracted work will probably be performed by those subcontractors who concentrate upon this type of work. Subcontractors who have performed clean-up work but who do not elect to train employees needed to qualify for future work will probably be excluded from working in this market.

In addition, there could be an economic impact upon some small local fire departments depending upon the amount of financial resources available to them for additional training. With the allowance for different amounts of training hours depending upon the expected extent of involvement with hazardous materials spills. OSHA believes that this economic impact will not significantly affect a substantive number of local fire departments.


OSHA reviewed the final standard and concluded that no significant environmental impacts are likely to result from its promulgation. In OSHA's December 19, 1986, interim final rule for the protection of workers engaged in hazardous waste and emergency response operations, information was solicited from the public on various issues, including possible environmental impacts of the regulation. On the basis of the review detailed below, and in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations (40 CFR Part 1500 et seq.), and the Department of Labor's implementing regulations for NEPA compliance (29 CFR Part 11), the Assistant Secretary determined that the standard will not have a significant impact on the external environment.

In most OSHA regulatory actions, two environments may be affected: (1) The workplace environment, and (2) the general human environment external to the workplace, including impacts on air and water pollution, solid waste, and energy and land use. The hazardous waste standard, however, is unique in that it focuses on the external environment because during these operations, the workplace and the external environment are usually one and the same. The standard is also unusual in that it is the first regulation since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) to be mandated specifically by Congress under section 126 of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). As indicated in the earlier sections of this Notice, the provisions of section 126 detail those protections that OSHA must include for workers at hazardous waste and emergency response operations. For example, section 126 requires that provisions for site analysis, training, and medical surveillance, among others, be included in the standard. In addition, there is a wide range of OSHA, EPA, and other standards that already apply to some activities that occur at hazardous waste sites and during emergency response operations. For example, there are existing OSHA standards that cover construction activities, on-site machinery and equipment, selection and use of personal protective equipment, handling of toxic and explosive materials, and general environmental and safety issues such as walking-working surfaces, noise, and illumination. Moreover, the final standard, in many instances, either reflects OSHA regulations, procedures adopted by other federal agencies (e.g., EPA), or practices that are commonly used by those knowledgeable in hazardous waste and emergency response operations. To the extent that existing standards, rules, or standard operating procedures are incorporated into this rule, no significant change in the environment is anticipated.


While OSHA does not anticipate any significant environmental effects as a result of this standard, there is a potential for some beneficial impacts. In general, as the work practices and procedures requirements of the standard reduce the incidence of employee injury, an indirect result should be a reduction in the likelihood of environmental releases of hazardous materials. (Virtually all provisions of the standard can be categorized in this manner, because once they are implemented, they will have a positive influence on worker safety.) As these requirements also provide guidance for routine reactions to situations encountered in emergencies, they may help to reduce the severity of such emergencies. Additional potentially positive impacts might be categorized as follows" (1) Direct benefits associated with reduced incidences in, or the severity of, the release of hazardous materials, and (2) indirect benefits associated with the improved flow of information and increased worker awareness of hazardous materials or with improved worker preparedness (either for normal site operations or for unexpected accidents). The following discussion highlights those provisions with potentially beneficial environmental effects.

Monitoring (h). The requirements of this provision will increase the amount of monitoring for airborne hazardous substances at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. In some cases, hazardous materials will be detected, and steps will be taken to more quickly control the release to the atmosphere, thereby providing an environmental benefit.

Handling drums and containers (j). A number of specific requirements of this paragraph will result in potentially positive environmental impacts. Relevant subsections include: Inspecting drums and containers; making salvage drums or absorbents available; initiating a spill containment program; emptying unsound drums and containers; requiring ground penetrating radar; and decontaminating equipment. These are discussed briefly in the following sections.

Inspection of drums/containers before moving (j)(1)(iii). This section requires that drums and containers be inspected for their integrity prior to handling and moving. Under current practices at hazardous waste clean-up sites, drums and containers are often handled with mechanized equipment (e.g., a barrel grapple on a backhoe arm) before being inspected, if unsound drums rupture or leak, any solid contaminated by the rupture or leak is removed for disposal upon completion of drum handling operations. This provision will, through worker awareness, increase the probability of averting ruptures and leakage. In addition, any hazardous materials in containers that cannot be moved without rupturing will have to be transferred to safe containers (as required in paragraph (j)(1)(ix)), with obvious positive environmental effect. These procedures will reduce the volume of contaminated soil requiring disposal and will also lower the possibility that leachate or runoff will carry contaminants offsite. This requirement does not have an impact on emergency response actions because the routines outlined are already standard procedure.

Availability of salvage drums/absorbents (j)(1)(vii). The provision specifies that salvage drums or containers as well as suitable amounts of proper absorbent be kept available for use in areas where spills, leaks, or ruptures might occur. This requirement will result in increased availability of salvage drums and spill absorbents at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites and in emergency response situations where spills are imminent, thereby reducing the environmental consequences related to spills of hazardous materials. In those instances where salvage drums/absorbents would have been inadequate without this requirement, there is a potential benefit to the environment.

Implement a spill containment program (j)(1)(viii). The purpose of this provision is to develop a program to be implemented, in the event of a major spill, that would contain and isolate hazardous materials being transferred into containers and drums. To the extent that this program is implemented, there will be a potential for reducing the negative environmental effects that occur as a result of spills, leakage, etc. This requirement will reduce the environmental impact of potential spills at clean-up sites.

Empty unsound drum/containers (j)(1)(ix). Unsound containers often rupture during handling operations. This provision requires that drums and containers that cannot be moved without spillage, leakage, or rupture be emptied into a sound container. This requirement will reduce the incidence of drum and container rupture and will provide concomitant environmental benefits.

Use of ground penetrating system to estimate depth and location of containers(j)(1)(x). At present, when preliminary investigations at hazardous waste sites indicate that buried drums or containers may be present, ground penetrating systems are frequently used to determine the depth and location of the drums. The requirements of this provision will very likely cause an increase in the use of these systems, thereby reducing the number of instances in which buried containers would go undetected or where undetected containers would be accidentally ruptured during excavation activities. Where it applies, the requirement will help prevent accidental ruptures and spills, improve the thoroughness of remedial actions, and benefit the site environment.

Develop Decontamination Procedures (k). The requirement to clean and decontaminate equipment, personnel, and personal protective equipment will prevent the migration of hazardous substances off-site, thereby benefiting the surrounding environment. It will also eliminate or minimize the contamination of personnel. Decontamination is already standard practice at most clean-up sites.

Inform Contractors of Existing Hazards (b)(1)(iv). Under this provision, contractors are to be informed of any "fire, explosion, health or other safety hazards" that are present. By ensuring that contractors know the location and nature of site hazards, this requirement will reduce the possibility that contractor activities will result in inadvertent releases or spills of hazardous materials.

Gather Information Before Site Entry (c)(4). Among the various requirements for site evaluation are those for information to be gathered regarding the (a) pathways for hazardous substance dispersion, and (b) status and capability of emergency response teams. These procedural requirements will result in an increased ability to predict and prevent movement off-site of hazardous materials, will mitigate emergency situations quickly and effectively, and will reduce the possibility or severity of contaminant release. As the requirements of the section mirror current practices, compliance will be accomplished with little difficulty.

Provide Worker Training (e). The training requirement will assure that site activities will be carried out by qualified personnel, with the knowledge and ability to fulfill their job functions in a safe and responsible manner. To the extent that this occurs, there will be a potential benefit to the environment (in emergency-response situations, similar benefits accrue from emergency response training and RCRA-regulated facility employee training.) For example, worker training will result in a more careful handling of materials accompanied by a reduction in the potential for inadvertent spills, improper disposal. etc. In emergency situations this training will assure a more efficient and effective cleanup of hazardous materials or a quicker response to avert further hazardous material releases.

Informational Programs (i). These provisions include requirements for a site safety and health plan, pre-entry briefings, and site inspections. These requirements will not directly affect the existing environment; their purpose is to provide workers with the information necessary to carry out their activities safely. To the extent that this occurs, there will be a potential benefit to the environment. For example, implementing comprehensive site plans will reduce the incidence of accident releases of hazardous materials. Similarly, requiring pre-entry briefings will reduce the likelihood of employees unknowingly encountering contaminants or allowing their improper release or disposal.

Emergency Response Plan (l) and (r). The development and implementation of a response plan for on-site and off-site emergencies will provide for greater worker preparedness. In emergencies, workers will be able to respond more quickly and effectively, thereby benefiting the environment.


In some situations, there may be a potential for negative effects on the environment as a result of the standard. Any potential negative impacts, however, are not expected to be significant. To illustrate this, negative impacts may occur if there is an increase in the time required to implement specific cleanup and spill response activities, or to implement safe work practices or procedures required by the standard. Any such effects are likely to be negligible, however since response teams already have established operating procedures similar to those in OSHA's standard.

Another potential negative impact may result from the requirement that salvage drums and absorbents be readily available. This may increase the number of repacked hazardous waste drums and the amount of spent absorbent used, which could add to the amount of material that would require safe disposal. Similarly, the requirements for implementation of proper documentation procedures for all equipment, personal protective gear, and personnel at hazardous waste emergencies, cleanup sites, and RCRA sites may result in an increase in the frequency and use of decontamination materials. This, in turn, could generate a larger volume of spent decontamination fluids which would then require proper handling and disposal. Again, any such impact should be negligible since decontamination is largely standard procedure for most hazardous waste operations. A possible exception may be during activities that take place in the early stages of site evaluation before cleanup, or at spill response, where decontamination procedures are not yet standardized.


To the extent that the work practices and procedures are implemented, increased worker awareness and preparedness will result in a safer and more healthful work environment, which may indirectly benefit the environment. Any negative impacts that may occur as a result of the implementation of these work practices or procedures are expected to be negligible. Based on this assessment and the information presented earlier in the preamble, OSHA concludes that no significant environmental changes are anticipated as a result of the standard.

[54 FR 9293, March 6, 1989; 55 FR 14072, April 13, 1990]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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