Posted on: May 16, 2024

Which HAZWOPER Training Do I Need?

Which HAZWOPER Training Do I Need?

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard provides guidelines for information and training to employers, emergency responders, and workers exposed to hazardous substances, ensuring safer workplaces and reducing the risk of injuries and illnesses from hazardous material exposure.

But there are a few different HAZWOPER training levels & you’ll need to be sure you complete the correct one before starting work. This blog aims to make understanding HAZWOPER training levels easy, helping you figure out which level is right for your needs and responsibilities.

What Are the Different HAZWOPER Training Levels?

There are three HAZWOPER training levels prescribed under 29 CFR 1910.120.

Two of them are initial training, to be completed before you start a qualifying job: HAZWOPER 24 and HAZWOPER 40. The numbers represent the length of the course in hours. HAZWOPER 40 is for people with a high risk of exposure, and HAZWOPER 24 is for people with a more limited risk.

All HAZWOPER workers, no matter what level they were initially, are required to refresh their training every year with the third level of course, known as HAZWOPER 8.

There is also a fourth type of HAZWOPER course suggested by the HAZWOPER standard, but its length is not prescribed by the regulations. Emergency responders who may become exposed to hazardous substances must be trained in “how to respond to such expected emergencies.” These are typically labeled “HAZWOPER Awareness” or “HAZWOPER Emergency Response,” and the length varies by the targeted role and risk level.

Choosing The Right HAZWOPER Training

When choosing the right HAZWOPER training for you, there are a few angles you need to consider. This includes job-specific HAZWOPER requirements, industry considerations, and course format.

Industry Considerations for Hazardous Waste Training

The HAZWOPER standard was created for first responders and hazardous waste operators. This means HAZWOPER training is only mandatory for certain roles in a small number of industries or sectors, including:

  • Uncontrolled waste site cleanup
  • Treatment, Storage, and Disposal (TSD) facilities
  • Facilities that store or use substances regulated under HAZWOPER
  • Private or public emergency first response

Many other industries have roles with a risk of contact with hazardous substances – from healthcare to city sanitation – but don’t require HAZWOPER training. Employers should train personnel on relevant topics and competencies, as well as ensure that other types of required training (like DOT HazMat) are fulfilled.

Job-Specific HAZWOPER Requirements

Even within the industries above, individuals only need HAZWOPER training if they meet specific role requirements or supervise those who do.

Emergency responders should choose a course based on the competencies covered. An incident commander will need a much more extensive course than a regular firefighter.

Those involved in hazardous waste cleanup or TSD will need to take either HAZWOPER 24 or HAZWOPER 40 to start with.

These workers need an initial 40-hour HAZWOPER if they will:

  • Work with and clean up hazardous materials regularly
  • Be involved in the storage and treatment of hazardous substances
  • Have exposure at or above Permissible Exposure Levels (PELs)
  • Work in environments where they need respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for more than 30 days a year
  • Supervise employees who do any of the above

Workers need an initial 24-hour HAZWOPER training if they will:

  • Come into contact with hazardous materials occasionally but will not be directly involved in the cleanup
  • Work at contaminated sites with exposure below PELs
  • Carry out remediation at fully characterized sites where they'll need respirators and PPE for less than 30 days a year
  • Supervise employees who do any of the above (but have no employees who need the 40-hour course)

Anyone who has completed HAZWOPER 40 or HAZWOPER 24 will need to complete HAZWOPER 8 at least once a year.

Course Format

The final consideration when choosing the right HAZWOPER training is the type of course.

HAZWOPER training is available both in person and online. Unlike other online courses, OSHA requires initial online HAZWOPER to be supplemented with a certain amount of hands-on training, including practice with personal protective equipment (PPE), site-specific training, and supervised field experience.

However, all of your “book learning” can be completed from anywhere you have a device and an internet connection.

To empower yourself with the knowledge and skills needed for HAZWOPER compliance, consider enrolling in our online HAZWOPER training courses. Our programs are designed to align with OSHA standards, providing a convenient and effective way to enhance your workplace safety. Invest in your safety education today and contribute to creating a hazard-free work environment for yourself and your colleagues.

Enroll in the right HAZWOPER course for you today!