Hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, hazardous materials, biological agents, and certain substances regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pose numerous worker safety and health hazards if not approached and dealt with properly. Accordingly, the OSHA HAZWOPER Standard provides a framework for protecting workers in hazardous waste cleanup and emergency response operations.
HAZWOPER covers three primary categories of work operations, any one or more of which may apply to a single employer:
- Hazardous waste cleanup operations, including:
- Cleanup operations at uncontrolled hazardous waste disposal sites that have been identified by a governmental health or environmental agency;
- Any corrective actions taken in hazardous waste cleanup operations conducted under EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); and/or
- Voluntary hazardous waste cleanups at government-designated sites.
- Operations involving hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facilities regulated under EPA 40 CFR 264 or 265 or by agencies under agreement with EPA to implement RCRA regulations. In addition, hazardous waste generators that qualify under 40 CFR 262.34 for exemptions from regulation under 40 CFR 264, 265, and 270, but who are also required by EPA or a state agency to have their employees engage in emergency response or who otherwise direct their employees to engage in emergency response for hazardous waste storage areas. (Note: EPA does not “require” conditionally exempt small quantity hazardous waste generators to have their employees engage in emergency response.)
- Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, “hazardous substances” without regard to the location of the hazard. (Note: Emergency response operations do not apply to “incidental releases” of hazardous substances.)
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