Certain industries are more at risk for being exposed to harmful substances than others. Employees who are regularly exposed or have the potential to be exposed to hazardous substances and wastes will benefit greatly from completing the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard or HAZWOPER training. Particularly, this includes those who are engaged in operations involving hazardous waste such as:
- Clean-up operations
- Corrective actions on clean-up operations
- Voluntary clean-up operations
- Operations involving hazardous substances conducted at storage, treatment, and disposal facilities; and
- Emergency response operations
Depending on the employee’s level of risk for exposure to such hazardous substances, there are different training programs that they may be required to complete:
8-Hour HAZWOPER Training
This training is essentially a refresher course, required annually for general workers or employees who are involved with health hazards or hazardous substances, or who are tasked to remove hazardous waste.
24-Hour HAZWOPER Training
This training is required for those employees (typically managers, drivers, supervisors, or surveyors) assigned to pay a short visit to an uncontrolled hazardous waste operation that’s government-mandated.
40-Hour HAZWOPER Training
This is a requirement for those workers who perform tasks on a daily basis that expose or potentially expose them to harmful waste or hazardous substances.
What to Look for in a HAZWOPER Training Program
1. Hands-on Experience
For HAZWOPER training, hands-on experience is essential. Ideally, trainees should have ample time to do exercises aimed at providing them with plenty of opportunities to become familiar with the safety equipment and protocols in a non-hazardous setting. There are two reasons for this: first, it ensures that workers will be able to learn by way of practical experience, and second, it allows the trainers to assess whether the workers-in-training have mastered the necessary skills they learned about during the duration of the course discussion.
2. Trainer Availability
To get the most out of a training program, trainees should be allowed the opportunity to ask questions to clarify on things that were not clear in the material provided to them. Hence, having easy access to an expert in the field in the form of a trainer is essential in order for the HAZWOPER training to be effective. While there are now plenty of training opportunities allowing workers to undergo the HAZWOPER training online, it is also necessary to check whether such a computer-based training program has a qualified trainer who the trainee can have direct access to via email or telephone hotline at the exact time that the online training is being conducted.
Having a HAZWOPER certification means that that worker or potential employee is already trained to deal with hazardous substances, whether in the clean-up, storage, or treatment stage. Completing the HAZWOPER training not only benefits the employee as it gives him a wider range of work opportunities, but it also benefits the employer. By having employees who are trained to deal with situations involving hazardous wastes and substances, the safety of the workplace can be maintained.