hazwoper training

Hazardous substances and hazardous waste cause various health risks and can have an acute impact of the good health of employees. Receiving annual HAZWOPER Refresher Training will keep important health and safety measures as a top-of-mind recall.

What is HAZWOPER Training?

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standards are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the construction industry 29 CFR 1926.65 and the general industry 29 CFR 1910.120 explain the health and safety requirements that employers and employees must follow when operating or working in hazardous waste operations or when involved in emergency response operations resulting from the sudden or unexpected release of hazardous substances.

These HAZWOPER standards also specify the types of HAZWOPER initial training and the HAZWOPER refresher training required by employees. The HAZWOPER standards also provide detailed information and criteria that employers must adhere to when training workers to ensure worker safety and health while carrying out work activities related to hazardous waste, emergency response, and hazardous substance clean-up operations.

As per OSHA’s purpose, the HAZWOPER regulations were developed with the primary aim of preventing and/or minimizing possible worker accidents, injuries, and sicknesses arising from the potential exposure to hazardous materials and substances, dangerous chemicals, and hazardous waste.

What types of HAZWOPER Training are mandated by OSHA?

In developing the HAZWOPER standards, OSHA has considered various factors and occupations that require varying forms of HAZWOPER training. Thus, OSHA has developed separate HAZWOPER training for different groups of people depending on their occupation as well as their responsibilities at work. These HAZWOPER training requirements are segregated into three levels:

  1. HAZWOPER (e) Series: Training requirements for site clean-up operations for general site workers, occasional site workers, and HAZWOPER supervisors and/or managers.
  2. HAZWOPER (p) Series: Training requirements for site workers at hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (sometimes referred to as either TSD facilities or TSDF operations).
  3. HAZWOPER (q) Series: Emergency Responders training for first responder awareness, first responder operations, hazardous material technicians, hazardous material specialists, and incident commanders.

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Importance of Refresher Training

The operations at hazardous waste clean-up sites and TSD facilities expose workers to myriad hazards endangering their safety and health. Recognizing this, OSHA has made HAZWOPER refresher training compulsory to ensure workers involved in hazardous waste operations and hazardous substances clean-up operations continue to be updated on the dangers they may face, understand the measures required to safeguard their health, and have accurate information related to occupational health and safety at the workplace. Additionally, employers would also be able to maintain high levels of health and safety practices at the worksite.

Furthermore, OSHA regularly reviews and updates the HAZWOPER standards to align them with emerging developments. Hence, HAZWOPER refresher training supports OSHA in cascading any changes or updates to these standards to the people to whom it is primarily important – the HAZWOPER workers.

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What are the types of HAZWOPER refresher training?

OSHA requires HAZWOPER workers to renew their HAZWOPER training annually by enrolling in 8 hours of refresher training before the previous certification expires. According to OSHA, the 8 hours of HAZWOPER refresher training as stated in sections (e), (p), and (q) is the minimum required training for HAZWOPER workers (OSHA Standard Interpretations Response Letter, 1992).

The below diagram identifies the exact training course required by the different groups of workers.

Today, these off-site HAZWOPER refresher training programs are conducted in several formats – online training (e-learning), in-person group training, and virtual instructor-led training. HAZWOPER OSHA Training offers the HAZWOPER refresher training courses in all these formats!

HAZWOPER Refresher Training – Key Topics

Primary topics covered by the 8 Hour HAZWOPER Refresher training courses are aligned to the initial HAZWOPER training received by workers. For instance, the 8 Hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training course for general site workers involved in clean-up operations includes topics covered by the 40 hour HAZWOPER Training course but in a summarized form. Examples of some topics covered are listed below.

  • Recap of the OSHA and EPA standards and any recent changes.
  • Review of the HAZWOPER standard with emphasis on any recent updates.
  • HAZWOPER training requirements.
  • Core elements of an occupational safety and health program.
  • How to complete a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)
  • Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) aligned to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • HAZWOPER site operations and site characterization.
  • Examines the physical and chemical properties of hazardous materials and hazardous waste
  • An explanation of toxicology, common toxic and chemical substances, chemical exposure methods and routes, and target organ poisons
  • Key elements of HAZWOPER site operations.
  • Material sampling and analysis at hazardous waste sites.
  • Procedures and safety strategies to adopt when working in confined spaces.
  • Types of personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protection, and when to use them.
  • Emergency response plan and procedures

Employers and training partners can choose which part of the topics require more emphasis depending on their work operations and target audiences, respectively. Often, commercial trainers are willing to customize their 8 hour refresher training to suit employer requirements such as organization-specific safety policies and procedures, a summary of hazardous incidents that have occurred in the past year, changes/upgrades to equipment, and specific preferences regarding PPE usage.

Who Needs OSHA 8 Hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training?

To sum up this article, let us discuss the people who need the HAZWOPER training.

First, all personnel employed at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites or operations must receive the appropriate HAZWOPER training. Those involved in emergency response operations involving hazardous substance spills (e.g., oil spills) must also receive the relevant 8 hours of HAZWOPER training annually. Thus, people in various roles such as general site workers, equipment/machinery operators, general laborers, hazardous materials technicians, hazardous materials specialists, hazardous materials supervisors and managers, and on-site managers and supervisors all need to obtain HAZWOPER training annually.


OSHA Standard Interpretations Response Letter. (1992, July 21). Website. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1992-07-21-0