OSHA Safety Training Standards: Hazardous Substances

Close up of several hazardous industrial and agriculture plastic waste canisters.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set out guidelines for employers in order to protect the health and safety of their workers. In this article, we will review OSHA's training standards for the handling of hazardous waste.

OSHA Training Guidelines on Handling Hazardous Waste

The training standards for hazardous waste operations require all employees who are exposed to hazardous substances or health hazards to receive safety training. The elements of the training are to include:

  • Identification of hazards
  • Appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Work practices for minimizing risks and using equipment safely
  • Recognition of symptoms of excessive exposure to hazardous substances

OSHA guidelines distinguish between training for general site workers and workers who are on a work site for a limited time to perform a specific task:

  • General site workers: For general site workers who handle hazardous waste or are regularly (or even potentially) exposed to hazardous substances, the basic guideline for training is 40 hours of initial training with three days of actual field experience.
  • Workers on site for a limited time: The standard is 24 hours of initial training with one day of supervised field experience for employees visiting the site occasionally.

Supervisors and managers must receive an additional eight hours of waste management training, and all employees must receive eight hours of refresher training every year.

These hazardous waste training requirements are included among OSHA's General Industry and Construction Industry Training Standards.

What Does OSHA Consider Hazardous?

For the sake of consistency, OSHA's definition for "hazardous waste" has been taken from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.

OSHA defines hazardous waste and hazardous substances simply as "all substances that exposure to which results or may result in adverse effects on the health and safety of employees." OSHA and its agents will generally decline to publish a list or lists of chemicals or substances that meet this definition to prevent including or excluding a substance that may only be hazardous in certain circumstances or when used in certain processes.

Additional OSHA Standards Related to Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste training requirements are only one component of OSHA's standards for general industry and the construction industry on hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

For an overview of the OSHA's hazardous waste standards, including operations guidelines and emergency response plans, please read OSHA Fact Sheet: Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.

We Help Businesses Comply With OSHA Standards and Training Requirements

At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our Houston-based OSHA compliance attorneys have more than 30 years of experience helping business owners maintain safe, efficient workflows. We can review your worksite for potential OSHA violations and help you develop a hazardous waste training and compliance program that keeps your employees safe. Call us at (713) 909-7323 or contact our Texas OSHA compliance and defense law firm online.

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