If your company deals with hazardous waste, then making sure your employees complete the necessary HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) training is critical to ensuring your company remains compliant to OSHA regulations. However, it's equally important that you consider all aspects of the training program so you can maximize the return on your investment. To that end, here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about HAZWOPER certification.
Do Employees Who Aren't Involved with Cleanup Need Training?
If you have workers who don't directly handle hazardous waste, you may be wondering whether OSHA requires them to also receive HASWOPER training. It depends on if those employees work in the same area as the potential contamination. Employees who work at the company but in areas apart from or where there is no risk of exposure to the hazardous material aren't required to do the training.
However, those who do work around hazardous contaminants must have HAZWOPER certification, even if they don't handle the material directly and/or the risk of exposure is minimal. For instance, employees who are responsible for repairing machines at a waste treatment plant would need to be certified, even though they may not deal directly with the waste.
It's important to note, though, that these employees may not need to same level of training as those responsible for cleanup. For instance, they may only need the 24-hour training, which provides general knowledge of hazardous materials and precautions and preventative measures to take, instead of the more comprehensive 40-hour training required for hands-on employees.
Is It True Employees Retain the HAZWOPER Certificate?
Although you may pay for your employees to be trained, HAZWOPER rules require the certificate to be given to those who actually complete the certification course. So if the employee quits or is fired from the job, you must provide the individual with at least a copy of any valid certificate he or she has earned. This is even true if the employee leaves the company after starting but prior to completing the full training. If the person completes and passes the classroom portion, then the individual is entitled to a copy of the certificate for that portion.
Is Online HAZWOPER Training a Good Alternative to the Classroom?
Although most HAZWOPER courses are conducted in person at college campuses and other meeting facilities, there are some companies that offer online training. The draw of these types of courses is undeniable. They can be completed anywhere the employee has access to an Internet connection, providing scheduling flexibility, and online courses may be cheaper since there's no need to rent a physical space to host the meeting.
However, there are two things you need to consider before signing up for this type of training. First, OSHA requires a portion of the training to be hands on, meaning the employee must perform physical tasks such as putting on and taking off protective garments and using various pieces of equipment. Though the classroom portion may be taken online, the hands-on part must be done in person. Therefore, any online HAZWOPER certification must account for this part of the training.
Another thing to consider is the online training course has to have a way for students to contact the trainer so they can ask questions about things they may not understand with the coursework. Telephone and email is best for this issue. However, onsite instant messaging or dedicated office hours at a local and easily accessible facility may work also. Be certain that the online course you choose provides some type of trainer contact option for students.