An EHS Hero® subscriber recently asked our experts at BLR® if an organization that is a small quantity generator (SQG) of hazardous waste needs to provide the extensive training required under OSHA’s standard for hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER). Read on to learn the answer.
Q: Our employees create, store, and prep paint waste for shipment to a company. Our annual training covers all SQG basics. We have never been written up for lacking Hazwoper training. Should we start requiring it? If so, will a 24 hour course be sufficient?
A: As a hazardous waste small quantity generator (SQG) employer, you are not required to train your employees in accordance with the extensive training requirements of the OSHA HAZWOPER workplace health and safety standard at 29 CFR 1910.120(e) or in other sections of the standard. However, you are required under the HAZWOPER standard to develop and implement either an “emergency response plan” or “emergency action plan” and to train employees as to the procedures that must be followed in the plan.
The HAZWOPER standard at 29 CFR 1910.120 protects the safety and health of employees involved in hazardous waste operations that involve responding to releases of hazardous substances and/or the cleanup of such releases. Under the EPA RCRA hazardous waste generator rules, hazardous waste generators conducting their normal operations are not subject to the HAZWOPER standard that requires compliance with extensive requirements for cleanup of hazardous substances at any of five “operations” described in the HAZWOPER standard. A normally operating hazardous waste generator site does not meet any of these five descriptions and is consequently not deemed to be one of the “operations” that must comply with the HAZWOPER standard, including the requirements for training.
The “notes and exceptions” section of the HAZWOPER standard at 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(2)(iii)(B) refers to generator employers as “excepted employers” that are specifically “not covered” by the majority of the requirements that apply to RCRA hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) which are one of the five “operations” subject to the HAZWOPER standard. The majority of TSDF HAZWOPER requirements are found at 29 CFR 1910.120(p)(1) through (p)(7). [Note that the training requirements at 29 CFR 1910.120(p)(7) include initial training of 24 hours for TSDFs.] This text describing “excepted employers” along with the text of 29 CFR 1910.120(p)(8)(i) work together to dictate that hazardous waste generators, including SQGs are subject to the HAZWOPER TSDF standard at 29 CFR 1910.120(p)(8) that requires them to develop and implement an “emergency response plan” (ERP) as specified in 29 CFR 1910.120(p)(8). An ERP is required only if either of the following two situations exist:
- The EPA or state agency requires the generator’s employees to engage in emergency response efforts, or
- The generator directs its employees to engage in emergency response efforts.
However, if the EPA or state agency does not require a hazardous waste generator’s employees to engage in emergency response efforts and if an employer that is a generator directs its employees to evacuate in the event of an emergency and not to assist in handling the emergency, then an ERP is not required, but only if the employer has an emergency action plan (EAP) that complies with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.38. As with an ERP, an EAP would involve some training as to the plan’s procedures that must be followed in the event of an emergency (e.g. evacuation, reporting an emergency). This training would not be as extensive or as specified as the training needed to comply with the many other parts of the HAZWOPER standard that do not apply to generators.
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