HAZWOPER: 40-Hour Initial Training: General Waste Site Workers Curriculum

HAZWOPER Training: 40-Hour Initial - General Waste Site Workers

According to OSHA, a "cleanup operation" is an operation where hazardous substances are removed, contained, incinerated, neutralized, stabilized, cleared-up, or in any other manner processed or handled with the goal of making the site safer for people or the environment.

All employees working on sites with cleanup operations covered by the HAZWOPER standard must receive training if they are exposed to hazardous substances, health hazards, or safety hazards.

General waste site workers (such as equipment operators, general laborers and supervisory personnel) engaged in hazardous substance removal or other activities that expose or potentially expose workers to hazardous substances and health hazards must receive a minimum of 40 hours of initial instruction off the site, and a minimum of three days actual field experience under the direct supervision of a trained, experienced supervisor.

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There are 20 online courses included within the HAZWOPER: 40-Hour Initial Training: General Waste Site Workers Curriculum:

Overview for Waste Site Workers

Introduces hazardous waste cleanup site hazards, tells the history behind the HAZWOPER Standard, gives on overview of the paragraphs of the standard that impact cleanup workers, covers the different cleanup worker roles and training requirements, and summarizes important worker rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Health & Physical Hazards

Creates awareness to hazards that may be present when working at a hazardous waste cleanup site or responding to an emergency release. Hazard control, chemical hazards, other site hazards, and related safety and health precautions are covered.

Chemical Fundamentals

Informs learners of how chemical-related terms are defined; the health and physical hazards, properties, stability, reactivity, and toxicity of chemicals; and the routes, symptoms, types, and effects of chemical exposure.

Written HAZWOPER Plans & Programs

Focuses on the plans and programs that are required prior to conducting any work at a hazardous waste cleanup site.

Medical Program

Acquaints learners with the Medical Program including the types of exams required, emergency and non-emergency treatment, medical records available, and symptoms to watch for that may indicate injury or illness while working with hazardous substances during hazardous waste cleanup or emergency response operations.

Exposure Monitoring & Sampling 

Informs learners of the purpose and advantages and disadvantages of exposure monitoring and sampling, types and frequency of monitoring and sampling, the instruments used along with calibration and maintenance requirements, methods available for obtaining samples, and the importance of recognizing result data and keeping accurate records of samples collected.

Site Control Measures

Informs learners about the importance of maintaining site control and the tools available to help accomplish that including site characterization, all the elements in the site control program, and other control measures.

Personal Protective Equipment & Clothing

Informs learners of the different types of PPE and chemical protective clothing (CPC) including their uses and limitations, levels of protection, how to don and doff the equipment, and the importance of proper storage, inspection, and maintenance.

Respiratory Protection 

Provides learners with comprehensive information on the purpose of respirators, all the components and types of respiratory protection equipment, respirator selection factors, respirator fit tests, and how to care for and use a respirator properly.


Focuses on ways to avoid contamination, the decontamination process including methods and equipment used in decontamination, the limitations associated with decontamination, the decontamination line itself, and emergency decontamination procedures.

HazCom, Hazmat, & Hazardous Waste

Covers the basics of OSHA Hazard Communication, DOT Hazardous Materials, and EPA Hazardous Waste regulations with the perspective of the hazardous waste cleanup site worker and emergency responder in mind. The HAZWOPER Standard, at its core, is about operations that involve the handling of hazardous substances, including hazardous chemicals, materials, and waste.

Handling & Shipping Drums & Containers 

Focuses on the precautions and procedures to use when handling, opening, staging, and shipping drums and other containers of hazardous substances. The course goes over the importance of inspection, planning, sampling, and characterizing drums and containers before movement. Special precautions and spill containment are also addressed.

Hazardous Substance Recognition & Identification 

Teaches learners the methods and resources available to help recognize and identify hazardous substances in an emergency, how to assess risk in an emergency, and make initial decisions in an emergency.

Emergency Response Planning 

Focuses on what an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is, the basic steps involved in an emergency response, employee roles in a response to a hazardous substance emergency release, and internal and external communications during an emergency.

Emergency & Post-Emergency Response Procedures

Exposes learners to the steps used for notification, preparation, and response during emergency and post-emergency response operations.

Fire Prevention & Protection

Addresses the fire basics at any hazardous waste cleanup site.

Radiation & Biologic Exposures

Familiarizes workers with the types of radiation they may encounter at work, dose limits, postings, and how to minimize exposure to radiation. It also informs workers about the different types of biological agents they should be aware of and how to protect themselves from bloodborne pathogens, as well as poisonous plants, animals, and insects.

Confined Spaces 

Provides necessary information to help prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities that may result from working in or around permit-required confined spaces at hazardous waste cleanup sites.

Electrical Safety & Lockout/Tagout

Familiarizes workers with the basics of electrical safety, how to recognize and avoid electrical hazards, what hazardous energy is, and how to properly perform lockout/tagout procedures to help avoid incidents involving electricity and other hazardous energy.

Temperature Extremes 

Informs cleanup site workers about the dangers of working in extreme temperatures, the signs and symptoms to watch for with temperature-related disorders, how to respond to signs and symptoms, and how to protect themselves when working in temperature extremes.

Intended Audience: Any employees who may be involved or expected to engage in hazardous waste cleanup operations where the employee may be exposed to hazardous substances, health hazards or safety hazards. These cleanup workers include:

  • General site workers, such as equipment operators, general laborers and supervisory personnel
  • Workers on the site only occasionally for a specific limited task (ie: groundwater monitoring, land surveying or geo-physical surveying) and who are unlikely to be exposed over permissible exposure limits
  • Workers regularly on the site who work in areas which have been monitored and fully characterized indicating that exposures are under permissible exposure limits where respirators are not necessary, and the site characterization indicates that there are no health hazards or the possibility of an emergency developing

Length: 22 hours

Copyright Date: 2018

Training Requirements

To prepare for site work, general waste site workers must be thoroughly trained in the following:

  • Names of personnel and alternates responsible for site safety and health;
  • Safety, health, and other hazards present on the site;
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) use;
  • Work practices by which the worker can minimize risks from hazards;
  • Safe use of engineering controls and equipment on the site;
  • Medical surveillance requirements, including recognition of symptoms and signs that might indicate overexposure to hazards;
  • Decontamination procedures;
  • The site's emergency response plan for safe and effective responses to emergencies, including the necessary PPE and other equipment;
  • Confined space entry procedures; and
  • The site's spill containment program.

NOTE: In OSHA's view, HAZWOPER online training, by itself, is not sufficient to meet the intent of the agency's training requirements for HAZWOPER, 29 CFR 1910.120 for general industry or 29 CFR 1926.65 for construction. Therefore, online training must be supplemented by site-specific elements, hands-on training and exercises, and an opportunity for trainees to ask questions of a qualified trainer.

When using this course curriculum as a tool to help with training under §1910.120(e)/§1926.65(e), we suggest you:

  • Ensure your trainer is qualified, in accordance with §1910.120(e)(5)/§1926.65(e)(5);
  • Augment the online training with site-specific elements;
  • Tailor your training to the employees' assigned duties;
  • Include hands-on training to familiarize trainees with equipment, PPE, and safe practices;
  • Provide trainees with immediate and direct access to a qualified trainer as they are taking the course;
  • Offer an opportunity for trainees to ask questions of the qualified trainer;
  • Ensure all training elements listed in the regulation are covered;
  • Meet the training duration requirement under §1910.120(e)/§1926.65(e) (NOTE: This online training course curriculum is not intended to fill the training duration requirement of 40 hours, and it is anticipated the remaining duration will be filled with the items in the suggested bullet items above);
  • Ensure a trained, experienced supervisor provides the specified three days of actual field experience for trainees under his or her direct supervision; and
  • Ensure the trainer (or head instructor), trained supervisor, and, according to OSHA sources, the employer, certifies the trainee has, in fact, met the applicable training and field experience requirements in accordance with §1910.120(e)/§1926.65(e). (NOTE: The online training course curriculum does not provide HAZWOPER certification per §1910.120(e)(6)/§1926.65(e)(6); the online course curriculum certificate only acknowledges the completion of the online training itself).

Alternatively, the employer may certify the trainee has equivalent training in §1910.120(e)(9)/§1926.65(e)(9), after meeting the specifications of §1910.120(e)(9)/§1926.65(e)(9).



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"Because of the J. J. Keller online training the improvement that we're seeing with the trainee is phenomenal. They seem to be much more educated from day one when they hit the dock."

Rick Fleischer  |  Director of Operations & Development  |  Ward Transport & Logistics  |  Altoona, PA

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