Quick Guide to HAZWOPER Training

Quick Guide to HAZWOPER Training

Exposure to hazardous chemicals can cause a variety of health and safety risks, including chemical burns, fires, explosions, and other effects that may lead to death. HAZWOPER is an important safety standard designed to train workers to be safe while they perform chemical response actions.

Keep reading to get all your HAZWOPER questions answered and learn how online training can help you meet your HAZWOPER needs.


The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard was enacted by OSHA in 1990 to protect workers involved in the initial stages of a chemical release emergency, the subsequent cleanup of a site once the emergency has been stabilized, and the cleanup of chemical contamination.

Industrial incidents such as Love Canal, the Valley of the Drums, and the Bhopal disaster led to the creation of waste management legislation. Similarly, OSHA saw the specific need to provide protection to workers. HAZWOPER was developed based on existing Department of Defense guidance, with input from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The key word when applying HAZWOPER regulations is “uncontrolled.” When a chemical emergency occurs, or a site with a potential chemical legacy is discovered, these may be identified as uncontrolled sites by a government body if the “accumulation of hazardous substances creates a threat to the health and safety of individuals or the environment or both.” The level of government is irrelevant — it may be Federal, State or local — but the identification is made by the relevant authority.

HAZWOPER is a health and safety standard designed to train workers to be safe while they perform chemical response actions; it is not designed to train on specific technical response activities such as plugging chemical leaks or spill remediation.

Who needs HAZWOPER training?

All employees working on a site that may be exposed to hazardous substances, health hazards, or safety hazards, along with supervisors and management responsible for the site, must meet specific training requirements before they are permitted to engage in hazardous waste operations.

These training requirements vary depending on which of the categories below the worker falls under.

What is sufficient proof of training completion?

Employees and supervisors who have successfully completed training and field experience will receive written certification by their instructor or the head instructor and trained supervisor as having completed the necessary training.

Anyone not certified or who does not meet the requirements shall be prohibited from hazardous waste operations.

What does HAZWOPER training need to cover?

Training must thoroughly cover each of the following topics:

What about HAZWOPER refresher training?

Every worker who falls under one of the categories listed above that has specific training requirements must also receive eight hours of annual refresher training. HAZWOPER refresher training must cover the same topics as the initial training, plus a critique of any incidents from the past year to serve as training examples, and other relevant topics as deemed necessary.

HAZWOPER refresher training does not require additional supervised field experience.

Can employees take online HAZWOPER training?

Initial HAZWOPER 24- or 40-hour training must be conducted in person and cannot be completed online. However, 8-hour refresher training can be completed online.

And because OSHA does not require refresher training to be completed all at once, online training provides flexibility and convenience, allowing employees to complete training courses on their schedule as they approach their annual training date.

Start your online HAZWOPER training today to help employees learn about hazard waste management, respiratory protection, fall arrest systems, compressed gas safety, and so much more.

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