Guide to Hazwoper

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Working with hazardous waste creates job site safety issues is workers don’t fully understand what to do. However, training to understand the basics of working around this waste reduces the risks of workplace incidents. Training for a HAZWOPER certificate ensures you meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and maintain safety standards. Even those not directly related to hazardous waste industries, such as emergency responders, often require HAZWOPER training to keep themselves and others around them safe. A HAZWOPER certificate verifies the completion of this type of safety training course.

Purchase the HAZWOPER Train-The-Trainer Course

What Is HAZWOPER Training?

What is HAZWOPER Training

HAZWOPER is an acronym for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training. A certificate in this field meets the requirements set by OSHA for training. HAZWOPER training teaches workers what to do if they need to handle exposure to waste in their daily work or in unintentional incidents.

Not everyone needs the same type of training. For example, some people only need eight-hour refresher courses whereas others require 24 hours or 40 hours for a certificate.

Therefore, each individual may need to take a different course, depending on their role in a company’s safety and how often they work with hazardous waste. However, those who do not receive a certificate in HAZWOPER training may not work with hazardous waste, according to OSHA 1910.120(e)(6). Additionally, each worker who must have HAZWOPER training will also need eight hours of refresher information annually.

What Constitutes a Hazardous Substance or Situation for HAZWOPER?

Several situations fall under the requirements for HAZWOPER training. These include incidents that require responses to any of the following situations:

  • Environments that pose an imminent danger to life or health (IDLH) situations or locations
  • Fire or explosion risk
  • Evacuated areas
  • High levels of toxic substances
  • Danger to employees
  • A threat to life or potential for injury

Responding to hazardous situations requires special knowledge about the dangers and how to handle them safely. Proper training could save worker lives in situations or locations that require HAZWOPER training. While the above indicate dangerous occurrences, not every hazardous waste exposure falls into the above categories. For example, when workers can safely clean up the area without requesting additional assistance, the situation does not come under the above emergencies.

Who Needs Hazardous Waste Operations Training

Who Needs Hazardous Waste Operations Training?

OSHA requires several groups to have a certificate showing HAZWOPER training, including:

  • Emergency responders
  • Uncontrolled hazardous waste site operators
  • Hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility personnel
  • Safety managers

Generally, anyone covered by the HAZWOPER requirements for training – both employers and employees – should take one of several HAZWOPER courses, based on their work. Those who work full time at a hazardous waste site need 40 hours of training, while part-time or occasional site workers need 24 hours of training.

Emergency Responders

Emergency responders are an integral part of the emergency response plan required by OSHA. These responders may not always encounter hazardous waste. But they need to be prepared with HAZWOPER training in case they do. Potential sites where these responders may encounter hazardous situations include those where the material has been released or pose such a threat. These responders may participate in several aspects of the emergency response plan, which includes evacuating those in the area, providing emergency medical care and decontaminating the site.

Possible types of workers who fall under emergency responders who need HAZWOPER training include firefighters responding to chemical spills or fires, factory response teams at hazardous material processing sites or teams that work to clean up vehicles that spill dangerous materials.

Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Site Operators

Uncontrolled hazardous waste sites often include abandoned facilities that pose an environmental or personnel hazard due to the chemicals used or leaked from the location. Contaminated land also includes these types of sites.

Workers at these sites need to maintain updated HAZWOPER training to continue to work at these locations. Typically, the work requires mitigating the impact of contamination on the environment. Even recent sites of chemical leaks or spills may require these types of workers until after the removal of the dangerous chemicals and the site becomes cleared for employees to return.

Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility Personnel

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlines definitions for hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities. Examples of TSD facilities include processing centers for hazardous materials at landfills or storage facilities for hazardous waste. Workers at these facilities also need HAZWOPER training.

OSHA requires personnel involved in operations at TSD facilities for hazardous waste to undergo a minimum of 40 hours of off-site safety training and three days of on-the-job training with a field supervisor. The experiential training ensures students understand the concepts learned during the course and can put that information into practice, such as wearing correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

Safety Managers

Safety trainers and worksite managers of environmental cleanup sites must have at least 40 hours of safety training, per OSHA 1910.120(e)(4) requirements. Plus, they need to go through three days of field training. Each year, safety trainers and safety managers also need to have eight hours to refresh their HAZWOPER certificate and keep it active.

Safety trainers need to take a Train the Trainer course. This course prepares them to become supervisors for experiential training and to conduct the classroom portion of HAZWOPER teaching. As with other forms of HAZWOPER training, safety managers who take the Train the Trainer course will also need to supplement it with experiential hours outside the classroom and in the field. These hours ensure that trainers know how to put on PPE, identify issues and handle hazardous waste while guiding others to do the same.

How to Get a HAZWOPER Certificate

You have several options for getting a HAZWOPER certificate. Whether to take a 24-hour course, a 40-hour option or an eight-hour refresher depends on your position and any previous training. For instance, each year, anyone with a HAZWOPER certificate needs to have eight hours of continuing education in a refresher course. However, to get an initial certificate, only those who regularly work full-time around hazardous materials need a 40-hour training. Always check your specific job against the OSHA requirements to ensure that you choose the correct course. Those who need 24-hour courses typically only have part-time or emergency response exposure to hazardous waste or situations.

NASP Hazwoper Courses


At the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP), we have a few courses for HAZWOPER training. These courses include Train the Trainer, HAZWOPER Specialist and HAZMAT Emergency Response Operations Level Training. Each course has a particular focus based on the OSHA classifications of those who respond to hazardous waste emergencies. Learn more about what each course covers and its credit hours to choose the correct option.

1. HAZWOPER Train-the-Trainer

The HAZWOPER Train the Trainer course includes information for safety professionals to become trainers and teach HAZWOPER to others. The training includes the off-site educational portion required by OSHA. However, the student will need to have additional in-field training on their own.

Within this 40-hour training, students take 18 courses either online or in the classroom. After taking this course, going through the required experiential training and receiving a written certificate, students can become trainers for others who need to get their HAZWOPER certificates.

HAZWOPER Train-the-Trainer

Topics Covered in the Train the Trainer Course

In the Train the Trainer Course, students get information for their education and materials to help train others. Included in the course are the following materials:

  • Sixteen PowerPoint presentations to customize
  • Student outlines and materials for training at your facility
  • Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards from the  National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Most recent Emergency Response Guidebook
  • Student reference manual that you can reproduce
  • Sample audits, programs, checklists and plans

These materials augment the course discussions. Each one of the 18 courses covers a different topic in the Train the Trainer series. The topics include:

  • Training methods
  • Introduction to HAZWOPER
  • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • Safety health programs and plans
  • Medical surveillance
  • Globally Harmonized System (GHS) and the Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) Standard
  • Safety data sheets (SDS)
  • Using PPE
  • Exposure monitoring and testing
  • Confined space entry
  • Container management
  • Spill control methods
  • Emergency response and procedures for decontamination
  • Incident command system

2. HAZWOPER Specialist (HZS)

The HAZWOPER Specialist (HZS) course covers what a supervisor or incident commander needs to know about emergency responses to hazardous waste incidents. They support the hazardous materials response technicians on the scene.

In this 13-hour course, students can earn 1.3 continuing education units (CEUs). We are accredited by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET) to offer these CEUs for our HAZWOPER courses.

This course focuses mainly on planning for emergencies by helping students understand the standards requiring a contingency plan and site safety and health plan. It augments information learned in other HAZWOPER courses for those who manage others at a hazardous waste site.

At the end of the course, students take an online test. To receive a certificate for HAZWOPER Specialist, students must show mastery by scoring at least 80% on one of two attempts at the exam.

HAZWOPER Specialist (HZS)

Topics Covered in the HAZWOPER Specialist Course

In the HAZWOPER Specialist course, students cover multiple topics about site management during hazardous material responses. Additionally, students have several practical activities to test their knowledge. Those who act as HAZWOPER specialists need a total of 24 hours of training. A portion of that training is equal to the training for a hazardous materials technician level, while the rest of the training focuses on specifics to emergency response management.

At the start of the course, students receive a review of both toxicology and chemistry. This review helps to support the reasoning behind the requirements for hazardous waste responses. Additionally, students learn to identify HAZMAT categories, which include explosives, gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidizing materials, toxic substances, radioactive products, corrosive goods and anything else that poses a danger.

HAZWOPER instruction in the course includes how to respond to hazardous waste incidents and command methods for emergency responses. Students who take this course need to have a refresher course and a passing exam once every three years.

3. HAZMAT Emergency Response Operations Level Training

First responders at the operations level require eight hours of HAZWOPER training. This type of training serves those who react defensively to a hazardous material situation. However, they do not actively try to stop the leak or clean up the material. Their role in the process is to remain at a safe distance from the hazardous waste release, prevent the release from spreading and prevent exposure to others.

The HAZMAT Emergency Response Operations Level course lasts eight hours and has 0.8 CEUs. During this time, students learn to be defensive and safe in an emergency. OSHA requires this level of HAZWOPER training to teach basic hazardous materials terms, risk assessment methods and how to choose and put on appropriate PPE. Students should learn to control or contain the situation to their required ability and understand basic decontamination.

Students who work through this online course need to pass an exam at the end with at least 80% correct. They will have two chances to pass the test. After three years, students need to recertify with a refresher course and test.

HAZMAT Emergency Response Operations Level Training

Topics Covered in the HAZMAT Emergency Response Operations Level Training

The topics covered in the HAZMAT Emergency Response Operations Level training include everything OSHA requires for those at this level. More specifically, the course includes the following subjects:

  • Putting risk and hazard assessment methods into practice
  • Understanding terms used for hazardous materials
  • Knowing the types of PPE to use for various HAZMAT incidents
  • Controlling, confining or containing hazardous materials
  • Understanding procedures for termination and basic decontamination
  • Recognizing a non-emergency spill versus an emergency spill
  • Find people, equipment and other methods to respond appropriately to a spill
  • Know the correct response for pollutant discharge and how to report the incident to the correct government entities

These topics ensure that students meet OSHA’s requirements for their level of response to hazardous waste material. Those who may have more agency in such situations, such as those responsible for stopping leaks, will need a higher level of training with more hours.

Sign Up For One of NASPs Hazwoper Courses

Sign up for One of NASP’s HAZWOPER Courses

Getting trained for a HAZWOPER certificate maintains site safety and meets OSHA requirements. Training should serve as an investment in building a workplace safety culture. NASP’s courses can help businesses create this culture.

Browse through our HAZWOPER course options to find the option that suits your professional needs. Our training courses offer real-world solutions for those working in the field. Our motto of “a practical approach to workplace safety” attests to how useful the information we teach in our courses is. Don’t put off HAZWOPER training. Improve personal and workplace safety now with a certificate in this area.

View NASP’s HAZWOPER Course Options

About the Author


Pete Nemmers

Pete Nemmers serves as NASP’s Director of Training Development, bringing a wealth of expertise to the organization. With a background rooted in safety and training, Pete plays a pivotal role in shaping the training programs offered by NASP. Pete ensures that NASP remains at the forefront of safety education, equipping professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate and excel in the dynamic field of safety.
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