HAZWOPER Site Communication Methods

Two sets of communication systems should be established: internal communication among personnel on site, and external communication between onsite and offsite personnel.

Internal communication is used to:

· Alert team members to emergencies.

· Pass along safety information, such as the amount of air time left before the next rest period, air change, heat stress check, etc.

· Communicate changes in the work to be accomplished.

· Maintain site control.

Verbal communication at a site can be impeded by onsite background noise and the use of personal protective equipment. For example, speech transmission through a respirator can be poor, and hearing can be impaired by protective hoods and respirator air flow. For effective communication, commands must be pre-arranged. In addition, audio or visual cues can help convey the message. The most important thing is that signals are agreed to in advance. Both a primary and backup system are necessary. A set of signals should be established for use only during HAZWOPER emergencies. Effective internal communication also requires the identification of individual workers so that commands can be addressed to the right worker. This is one of the key fundamentals of quality safety training. The worker's name should be marked on the suit and, for longdistance identification, color coding, numbers, or symbols can be added. Flags may be used to help locate personnel in areas where visibility is poor due to obstructions such as accumulated drums, equipment, and waste piles. All communication devices used in a potentially explosive atmosphere must be intrinsically safe and not capable of sparking, and should be checked daily to ensure that they are operating.

external communications used at HAZWOPER sites

An external communication system between onsite and offsite personnel is necessary to:

· Coordinate emergency response.

· Report to management.

· Maintain contact with essential offsite personnel. The primary means of external communication are cell phones and radio. The necessary telephone numbers should be readily available in the Support Zone.


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