HR Management & Compliance

Are Your HAZWOPER Responders Trained for Their Duties?

Here’s a quick review of HAZWOPER emergency responder training requirements.

Skilled Support Personnel

According to the HAZWOPER mandatory compliance guidelines (Appendix C), employees who are not part of the Emergency Response Program and who may be called to the incident scene to provide emergency support assistance (e.g., public works department staff, operators of bulldozers, sand trucks, and backhoes) should have at least a safety and health briefing before entering an area of potential or actual exposure to hazardous materials. They should also be provided with all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) required for their tasks.

Specialist Employees

The HAZWOPER compliance guidelines recommend that specialist employees, such as technical experts, medical experts, or environmental experts that work with hazardous materials in their regular jobs, and who may be sent to an emergency incident to advise and assist an incident commander, should have training annually. Their training should include:

  • Care and use of PPE
  • Knowledge of the incident command system
  • Other areas needed to keep current in their fields relative to safety and health involving hazardous substances

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First Responder (Awareness Level)

First responders at the awareness level are workers who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release. Their role is limited to notifying the proper authorities. Training or equivalent experience for first responders at the awareness level must allow for:

  • Understanding of what hazardous substances are and the risks associated with them in an incident
  • Knowledge of the potential outcomes associated with an emergency created when hazardous substances are present
  • Ability to recognize the presence of hazardous substances in an emergency
  • Ability to identify the hazardous substance, if possible
  • Understanding of the role of the first responder awareness individual in the employer’s emergency response plan, including site security and control and DOT’s Emergency Response Guidebook
  • Ability to realize the need for additional resources and to make appropriate notifications to the communication center

First Responder (Operations Level)

First responders at the operations level are individuals who respond to releases or potential releases of hazardous substances as part of the initial response to the site for the purpose of protecting nearby persons, property, or the environment from the effects of the release. These individuals are trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to stop the release. At least 8 hours of training or equivalent experience is required as well as a demonstration of competence in the following areas in addition to those listed for the awareness level:

  • Knowledge of the basic hazard and risk assessment techniques
  • Knowledge of how to select and use proper PPE
  • Understanding of basic hazardous material terms
  • Knowledge of how to perform basic control, containment, and/or confinement operations within the capabilities of the resources and PPE available within the unit
  • Knowledge of how to implement basic decontamination procedures/techniques
  • Understanding of the relevant SOPs and termination procedures

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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll cover more HAZWOPER training information, plus we’ll explore a comprehensive ready-to-use HAZWOPER training resource that’s available now.

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