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OSHA 40 Hour HAZWOPER Training

When you engage your employees to work in a hazardous waste contaminated site, here are some helpful ideas to remember when training your personnel to the OSHA 40 Hour HAZWOPER certification level.

Site MapOSHA 40 site map

An OSHA 40 HAZWOPER/HAZMAT site map showing topographic features, prevailing wind direction, drainage, and the location of buildings, containers, impoundments, pits, ponds, and tanks is helpful in:

· Planning activities.

· Assigning personnel.

· Identifying access routes, evacuation routes, and problem areas.

· Identifying areas of the site that require use of personal protective equipment.

· Supplementing the daily safety and health briefings of the field teams.

The map should be prepared prior to site entry and updated throughout the course of site operations to reflect:

· Accidents.

· Changes in site activities.

· Emergencies.

· Hazards not previously identified.

· New materials introduced on site.

· Vandalism.

· Weather conditions.

· Overlays can be used to help portray information without cluttering the map.

OSHA 40 Site Preparation

Time and effort must be spent in preparing a site for the cleanup activity to ensure that response operations go smoothly and that worker safety is protected. Site preparation can be as hazardous as site cleanup. Therefore, safety measures should be afforded the same level of care at this stage as during actual cleanup. Our OSHA 40 HAZWOPER training presents the major steps in site preparation prior to any cleanup activities.

HAZMAT Site Work Zones

To reduce the accidental spread of hazardous substances by workers from the OSHA 40 HAZWOPER contaminated area to the clean area, zones should be delineated on the site where different types of operations will occur, and the flow of personnel among the zones should be controlled. The establishment of work zones will help ensure that: personnel are properly protected against the hazards present where they are working, work activities and contamination are confined to the appropriate areas, and personnel can be located and evacuated in an emergency. Hazardous waste sites should be divided into as many different zones as needed to meet operational and safety objectives.

For illustration, our OSHA 40 HAZWOPER  course describes three frequently used zones:

· Exclusion Zone, the contaminated area.

· Contamination Reduction Zone (CRZ), the area where decontamination takes place.

· Support Zone, the uncontaminated area where workers should not be exposed to hazardous conditions.

Delineation of these three zones should be based on sampling and monitoring results and on an evaluation of potential routes and amount of contaminant dispersion in the event of a release.

Identifying Hazardous Chemicals

Recognizing the type and degree of the hazard present at an OSHA 40 HAZWOPER site is usually one of the first steps when determining the level of occupational risk at a worksite. This initial step is required in accordance with federal occupational safety regulations. The hazardous situation involved must be identified. Then the physical and chemical properties which may make it hazardous, or capable of causing harm, are determined. These inherent properties are used, on a preliminary basis, to predict the behavior and anticipated problems associated with site activities. Hazard recognition may be easy, for example, unguarded moving parts or a transportation placard on a tanker.

At a contaminated site containing hundreds of different chemicals, complete hazard identification is more difficult. The element of recognition, therefore, involves use of all available information (e.g. sampling results, historical data, visual observation, instruments, package labels, shipping manifests, existing documentation, witnesses, and other sources) to identify the substances. It is important to recognize hazards when working around hazardous material containers and drums. The recognition process should include a comprehensive characterization of drums and containers including radioactivity, leaking/deteriorated, bulging, and explosive/shock sensitive issues. Important information can be obtained by simply looking at a container. For instance, if the drum head configuration is "open-head" (removable lid) then the drum most likely contains a solid or semi-solid material, while drums with bungs are designed to contain liquids. The presence of a liner may indicate that the material contained within is corrosive. The type of material the container is made from may also indicate the class of chemical.

The presence of a crystalline material at the neck or opening of any container may indicate that the material inside is explosive or shock sensitive. All containers suspected of containing shock sensitive or explosive materials should be treated as containing such material. Bulging drums indicate that the internal pressure may have increased and the material inside may be volatile and flammable. An OSHA 40 HAZWOPER worksite may involve more than the presence of a hazardous material. It may contain a situation in which the normal safeguards associated with the materials are compromised, thus creating the chance of undesirable effects. For instance, gasoline can do harm because it's vapors can ignite and explode. However, the usual safety techniques for handling gasoline should prevent this from happening. Problems caused by the release of gasoline into the environment can be anticipated based on its chemical and physical properties. The harm that gasoline will do if released at a site, however, depends on site-specific conditions. A multitude of substances exhibit one or more characteristics of flammability, radioactivity, corrosiveness, toxicity, or other properties which classify them as hazardous. For any particular hazardous category, the degree of hazard varies depending on the substance.

The degree of hazard is a relative measure of how hazardous a substance is. For instance, the Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration of butyl acetate in air is 1,700 parts per million (ppm); the IDLH for sulfur dioxide is 100 ppm. Sulfur dioxide, therefore, is much more acutely toxic (has a higher degree of hazard) when inhaled at lower than IDLH concentrations than butyl acetate. Vapors from butyl acetate, however, have a higher degree of explosive hazard than sulfur dioxide vapors which are not explosive. Once the substance has been identified, its hazardous properties and its degree of hazard can be determined using various databases or reference materials. Although appropriate references give information about the substances physical/chemical properties and may give indications of its environmental behavior, additional data is required. Frequently, monitoring and sampling data is used to: (1) identify substances, (2) determine concentrations, (3) confirm dispersion patterns, and (4) verify the presence of material.

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