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HAZWOPER Certification Requirements


HAZWOPER or HAZMAT Offensive Responders

HAZWOPER Certification Infographic

In compliance with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.120 regulations, HAZWOPER certification is required for anyone who works in any of the 3 different levels of HAZWOPER sites – contaminated sites, emergency response and/or Hazardous Waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF). Certain states that have U.S. OSHA approved State Plans will write and enforce their own regulations. But they must be as stringent as the Federal standard. Most Plan States adopted the Federal version of the HAZWOPER regulation verbatim. All HAZWOPER Offensive Responders must possess a unique skill set of being well trained and being able to deal with the physical demands of the job. Who could forget our Responders on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

All HAZWOPER Offensive Responders listed in the regulations require the following. 

• baseline medical physical exam
• training based on your job classification
• required respirator fit test
• site-specific or on the job training
• HAZWOPER annual re-certification
• HAZWOPER certification provided by both the trainer and employer

Baseline Medical Physical Exam

The HAZWOPER Certification process begins with a standard baseline medical physical exam that includes a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). A PFT is a non-invasive procedure where a person exhales into a tube that discharges into volumetric cylinder and records your lung capacity. How well your lungs function is important as you will be wearing a respirator. Lung capacity is an important part of ensuring you can wear a respirator and perform work in a safe manner.

OSHA has mandatory medical evaluation and questionnaire requirements that can be found in Appendix C of the Respiratory Protection Standard – 29 CFR 1910.134. A respirator must be worn when there is an Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) environment or whenever the Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) for hazardous substances are met or exceeded. The PEL’s are located in 29 CFR 1910.1000 Subpart Z, known as the “Z Tables”.

Training Based On Job Classification

Depending upon your job duties, there are a number of different HAZWOPER training courses you can take.

The following are considered Offensive First Responders.

General Site Workers
• 40 hour HAZWOPER or HAZWOPER 40
• 24 hour HAZWOPER
• 8 hour Supervisor

Emergency Response
• 24 hour Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Technician
• 24 hour HAZMAT Specialist
• 8 hour Incident Commander

Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) (TSDF)
• 24 hour RCRA HAZWOPER TSDF Worker

Required Respirator Fit Test

For the HAZWOPER offensive job classifications, a respirator fit test is required. 29 CFR 1910.134 requires this test. This involves either a qualitative or quantitative fit test followed by a positive and negative pressure fitting of the respirator before engaging in cleanup of hazardous substances. A qualitative fit test is a pass/fail test that relies on an individual’s response to a test agent. The quantitative fit test provides a more accurate fit test. The particle concentration outside the respirator is measured against the concentration inside the respirator. The ratio of these two numbers is the fit factor.

If a person is wearing either a half-mask of full-face respirator, a person must perform a positive and negative pressure check of the seal between the face and rubber of the respirator. The negative pressure check is accomplished by placing the palms of both hands on the canister openings of the respirator and inhaling. A person should hold the exhaling pressure for 10-15 seconds and should notice a slight inward bulge of the facepiece.

The positive pressure check is done by placing the palm of one hand over the respirator exhaust valve and exhaling. A person should hold the exhaling pressure for 10-15 seconds and should notice a slight outward bulge of the facepiece.

Site-Specific or On the Job Training

On the job training (OJT) is required for all Offensive First Responders. For General Site Workers, the 24 hour HAZWOPER course requires 1 day of OJT and the 40 hour HAZWOPER course requires 3 days of OJT. A qualified instructor must conduct the OJT sessions. It is also a requirement that hands-on site-specific training be performed using the actual equipment an employee will be using during their job. Generic training on equipment does not fully satisfy the OSHA requirement. The site-specific training requirement must be done prior to working at a HAZWOPER site.

HAZWOPER Annual Re-certification

Annual re-certification and competency testing is required for all HAZWOPER certifications. Some of the courses have a time requirement and some have competency testing with no time requirement. A HAZWOPER Offensive Responder must maintain their certification at all times.

HAZWOPER Certification Provided By Both Trainer and Employer

OSHA holds the employer ultimately responsible for adequately training their employees. The HAZWOPER certification granted to an employee is held jointly by the training provider and the employer. An Offensive First Responder must maintain their HAZWOPER certification at all times.

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