OSHA Offers New Online HAZWOPER Guidance Document

A new safety and health guidance document posted on OSHA's Web site was created to assist workers and employers in determining whether an activity is, or would be considered, an "emergency response" activity under OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard.

HAZWOPER applies to employers and workers who may be exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances and who are working in specific operations, including emergency response operations for releases, or substantial threats of release of hazardous substances.

"We received inquiries from workers involved in hurricane cleanup and recovery operations along the U.S. Gulf Coast asking whether their activities met the requirements of HAZWOPER," explained Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan Snare. "This guidance document was developed to not only help answer those specific questions but to also provide another resource that will benefit all workers and employers who may be exposed to hazardous substances."

The OSHA guide provides an overview of the conditions in which a response or cleanup activity may fall under the requirements of HAZWOPER. It is divided into two sections: "The Application of HAZWOPER to Worksite Response and Cleanup Activities" and "Employee Training for Worksite Response and Cleanup Activities."

Each section links to useful information and practical guidance to help with the appropriate response.

Flowcharts are included in the document for easy reference and to help outline what compliance pathway workers should follow depending on the nature of the worksite situation. Each one follows a question-and-answer format to draw a conclusion on what other OSHA standards will be enforced.

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