OSHA HAZWOPER training: You have the right to know

Did you know that you have a right to know what dangerous substances you are working with and what protections are available? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s HAZWOPER standard is a law that may give you protection.


OSHA created the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, or HAZWOPER, standard to protect the health and safety of workers who handle hazardous substances. The regulation assists workers in safe and proper waste operations, including:

  • Handling
  • Storage
  • Recovering
  • Processing

Specialized training is required for all workers covered under the HAZWOPER standard. Training topics include protection against chemicals, elimination of hazardous chemicals, safety of workers and the environment, and OSHA regulations.

Who needs HAZWOPER training?

If you are exposed to hazardous substances through the following operations, you are covered by HAZWOPER:

  • Clean-up operations
  • Corrective actions
  • Voluntary clean-up operations
  • Hazardous waste operations at treatment, storage and disposal sites
  • Emergency response operations

Examples of jobs which require HAZWOPER training may include equipment operators, hazardous materials technicians and specialists, and on-site management and supervisors.

Initial HAZWOPER training for workers directly handling hazardous substances is typically a 40-hour training course. However, the amount of training needed may depend on your job responsibilities and level of exposure to hazardous substances. For workers visiting uncontrolled hazardous waste operation sites or working at a treatment, storage and disposal site, only a 24-hour initial training may be required. Workers who have met their initial HAZWOPER training requirement need to complete an eight-hour HAZWOPER refresher course each year. Annual HAZWOPER refresher training ensures that workers stay knowledgeable and up-to-date on how to safely perform operations involving hazardous substances.

The United Steelworkers (USW) Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) offers HAZWOPER 40-hour, 24-hour and eight-hour annual refresher courses. Talk with your employer to determine if you need HAZWOPER training to safely perform your job tasks. Contact your union representative or the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department for more information or help on determining if you are covered under this standard.