SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response
Protecting workers from hazardous materials
is one of the biggest safety challenges. To help meet this need, the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental
Protection Agency A(EPA) have issued a joint standard on Hazardous Waste
Operations and Emergency Response - commonly called HAZWOPER.
Hazardous materials are substances that
pose a serious threat to human health or the environment if they are improperly
managed. Certain materials are listed by name as hazardous under laws passed by
the EPA, OSHA and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
There are 9 classes of hazardous materials
as listed by the Department of Transportation:
Class 1 - Explosives
Class 2 - Gases
Class 3 - Flammable
Class 4 - Flammable Solids,
Spontaneously Combustible Materials and materials that are dangerous when
Class 5 - Oxidizers and Organic
Class 6 - Poisonous and Etiologic
Class 7 - Radioactive
Class 8 - Corrosives
Class 9 - Miscellaneous Hazardous
The standard covers hazardous waste
operations and emergency response that "involve employee exposure or the
reasonable possibility for employee exposure to safety or health hazards."
Safety hazards include
physical dangers such as fire or explosion.
Health hazards are
chemicals and disease organisms that can cause illness, injury or death.
The HAZWOPER Standard requires employees
who may be exposed to hazardous materials and/or hazardous waste operations to
Training shall be based on the duties and
function to be performed by each responder of an emergency response
organization. As a minimum first responders must be trained in the following
- An understanding of what hazardous substances are, and
the risks associated with then in an incident.
- An understanding of the potential outcomes associated
with an emergency created when hazardous substances are present.
- The ability to recognize the presence of hazardous
substances in an emergency.
- The ability to identify hazardous substances if
- An understanding of the role of the first responder
awareness individual in the employer's emergency response plan including site
For valuable information on the dangers of
any hazardous material the MSDS (material safety data sheet) should be checked
before an emergency occurs.
All employees of your company should be
familiar with the company emergency response plan. Emergency response plans must
be pre-approved by local authorities when outside help, such as the fire
department would be called to the scene.
Proper response to an emergency will help
save lives and prevent damage to property and the environment.
For more information, click on the Authors Biography at the top of this page.