When you are in charge of keeping a crew ready for cleanup and handling of hazardous waste, you need to make sure everyone is current with hazwoper training. Hazwoper training, or that required and implemented by OSHA, gives individuals responding to dangerous or potentially hazardous materials a clear understanding of how to handle sites that can cause physical and health problems for everyone in the vicinity.
If your cleanup team has been trained through OSHA standards in the past, shorter refresher courses are available to keep them current. But if it's been years since your team members have been trained, or if you have new members that have been trained but not been certified, here's why it's crucial that everyone is on the same page before the next response.
Protocols and Threats Can Change
Residual effects on both the environment and personnel handling hazardous sites should be minimized, and because handling protocols are constantly updated, your crew should stay within the current understanding of how to respond accurately to each threat posed during the response. Biological threats, fire hazards, oxygen-deficient sites, evacuation needs, and correct handling of toxic substances need to be handled by your cleanup crew according to current OSHA protocols because there is an evolution of how these threats are handled according to current technology and understanding. If a response team does not handle hazardous sites according to proper and current protocols, they can risk personal injury, threaten the immediate surroundings, and residual effects on sites that can be a detriment for years to come.
Certification is Sometimes Mandatory
Not only do some agencies require current certification for response teams to participate in emergency clean-ups, but employers that don't maintain employees' current certification can be fined and liable for damages. If response teams work on an emergency site without current knowledge of how to handle dangerous substances, they can pose a threat to the whole team and surroundings.
Certification courses run from 8-hour refreshers to full 40-hour ones that give a thorough and detailed understanding of emergency response process. Though certification is advised for medical, laboratory, and waste management staff, it is not always required. But federal, local, and hazmat employees must stay within current certification requirements by OSHA in order to respond. So if any member of your team is overdue for an annual refresher, it's time to get them enrolled in an easy 8-hour certification. Contact local trainers, such as those from National Environmental Trainers, for further assistance.