Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HAZWOPER Standard and Required HAZWOPER Training

If you are asking yourself, “Am I required to train my employees under the HAZWOPER Standard?” this article can help you answer that question.

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) applies to five distinct groups of employers and their employees. This includes any employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances — including hazardous waste — and who are engaged in one of the following operations as specified by 1910.120(a)(1)(i-v) and 1926.65(a)(1)(i-v):
  1. Clean-up Operations

required by a governmental body, whether Federal, state, local or other involving hazardous substances that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (including, but not limited to, the EPA’s National Priority Site List (NPL), state priority site lists, sites recommended for the EPA NPL, and initial investigations of government identified sites which are conducted before the presence or absence of hazardous substances has been ascertained)
  1. Corrective Actions involving Clean-up Operations

  1. Voluntary Clean-up Operations

sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites
  1. Operations involving Hazardous Wastes

Operations conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations
  1. Emergency Response Operations

releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard
The first 4 of these 5 groups are specifically “hazardous waste sites”.  The 5th group, “Emergency Response Operations” may be a bit more difficult to recognize because it applies to any area (factory, construction site, etc.) that uses or produces hazardous material for production or to perform their duties.  Employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances — including hazardous waste — and who are engaged in emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard are included in emergency response operations.
How is “emergency response” defined?  OSHA discusses this very topic in a Compliance Directive CPL 02-02-059, Appendix E.
An understanding of the distinction between an incidental release of a hazardous substance and a release that requires an emergency response is fundamental to proper compliance with the provisions of 29 CFR 1910.120(q). This part of the standard was written to cover a wide array of facilities and situations: “Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard.” (29 CFR 1910.120(a)(1)(v))
Potential releases of hazardous substances in the workplace can be categorized into three distinct groups in terms of the planning provisions of 29 CFR 1910.120(q). These groups are:
1.  Releases that are clearly incidental regardless of the circumstances
2.  Releases that may be incidental or may require an emergency response depending on the circumstances
3.  Releases that clearly require an emergency response regardless of the circumstances
This directive basically breaks down a spill response into “incidental” and “emergency response”.  These two terms are defined in 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(3)
Emergency response or responding to emergencies means a response effort by employees from outside the immediate release area or by other designated responders (i.e., mutual aid groups, local fire departments, etc.) to an occurrence which results, or is likely to result, in an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance.
Responses to incidental releases of hazardous substances where the substance can be absorbed, neutralized, or otherwise controlled at the time of release by employees in the immediate release area, or by maintenance personnel are not considered to be emergency responses within the scope of this standard. Responses to releases of hazardous substances where there is no potential safety or health hazard (i.e., fire, explosion, or chemical exposure) are not considered to be emergency responses.

If you are not sure which situation applies to you, give us a call 773 313 3012   We can walk you through the Risk Assessment process to determine if you need to train your employees to the requirements of the HAZWOPER standard.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CSB Videos

While preparing for a class scheduled in the next couple of weeks,  I decided to look on the CSB's (Chemical Safety Board) website.  They have videos featuring several different chemical accidents that reveiws what happened and how it could have been prevented.  These videos are a mix of interviews with employees and experts, video footage and animation of what is believed to have happened.  These videos can be a valuable tool to use for training both workers and rescue personell.  You can access their website at

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SMART Objectives

Attended a NIMS ICS-300 class this week.  This class discussed the incident command process for larger incidents and events.  For the non-Fire service folks, this is basically a resource management process or system.  One of the early process steps in dealing with an incident is to develop incident objectives.  These objectives guide the mitigation priorities to ensure life safety, incident stabilization and property preservation.  The incident objectives state what will be accomplished.
Incident objectives need to be Specific in describing the objective, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic and Time sensitive.  You can use the acronym SMART as a tool in remembering the characteristics for good objectives.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Preparing for Confined Spaces

Confined space fatalities are totally preventable.  Over the last three years, the annual average fatality rate is over 100 deaths.  If these deaths are preventable, then why are there still people dying in confined spaces?  I believe that there are several key factors as to why.  First, there is a "mentality" of the would be rescuer.  Believing that one can save another persons life under any condition is naive.  Professional rescuers train continuously on a wide range of equipment and potential scenarios.  It is unlikely that a "layman" rescuer has the equipment, training or ability to conduct a rescue requiring vessel entry.  It is hard to stand by and do nothing, but that is what it takes to save your own life.  Your family and friends depend on it.  Second, some facilities do not have proper policies or procedures to instruct the worker as to what are acceptable actions.  Without guidance, a person will do what he or she believes is the best course of action.  Finally, do the workers have the proper training on the procedures and equipment that they are being asked to use.  Any loss of life or injury involving confined spaces is tragic; these incidents are totally preventable. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grain Handling Facilities

OSHA has sent letters to over 10,000 grain handling facilities last month, warning them of the hazards associated with workers entering storage bins.   Over 50 people lost their lives in grain bin accidents in 2010 alone.  Several of those were in Illinois.  OSHA has a Fact Sheet that outlines some of the hazards and provides recommendations for mitigation.  Grain storage bins are dangerous for workers to enter due to bridging and "running" characteristics of the grain.  Confined space protocols and proper equipment can protect workers as they enter grain storage bins to perform their duties.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Near Miss Program

I was working this weekend teaching hazmat.  Talking with another instructor, who is a career firefighter, about workplace injuries.  Some occupations are inherently risky.  Some require employees to take "calculated" risks inorder to save anothers life.  During the risk evaluation, we try to evaluate all hazards and come up with a plan to acheive our goal.  Sometimes this is formal, sometimes informal.  When someone gets injuried during this task, then people sit down to make sure that it doesn't happen a gain.  Which is great, but what about the tasks that almost lead to an injury or a Near Miss.  If we spend some time looking at the almost injuries, we can reduce our actual injuries.  For firefighers, a national reporting system exists, but not many know about it or use it.  Here is a link.

Every sector of business can benifit from a near miss reporting program, wether internal or external. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why pay for Safety?

A little story about a friend. 
My friend was cutting wood with a new chain saw.  Everything was progressing well, lots of progress, sharp chain and plenty of wood to cut.  My friend had his safety gear on, safety glasses, ear plugs and steel toed shoes.  When he was finished cutting the log, as he had done hundreds of times before, he moved the saw, which unfortunately contacted his upper thigh.   Luckily, between the insulated coveralls, jeans and the key fob for his truck, there was no injury.  A near miss.   This is a great lesson learned, but not the only lesson to learn.
After talking with my friend, this is not the first time that this had happened.  He has other jeans that bear the jagged rip of the chain saw.  Why did he not learn the first time?  What was he thinking?
Well, turns out after the first time, he looked into kevlar chaps to protect his legs.  But, they were $100.  A little more than he wanted to pay. So, you guessed it, no chaps!!
Why is it that when it comes to accident or injury prevention, we are reluctant to pay money up front?  I know for sure that if he had actually cut his leg, he would have paid a lot more than $100, and wished he had bought the chaps.
It seems that for some people, they are willing to gamble that "it won't happen to me".   In case it does, I have workers comp or insurance to cover it.  But what about the non-tangible costs like pain, inconvienence, guilt, lost productivity, mobility etc.
In my book, prevention is a better route to take.  It is an easy concept to understand, yet our practice is not what we preach.

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