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How to Become a HAZWOPER Instructor

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not directly certify instructors in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training. Further, OSHA does not specific a series of courses needed or endorse any private training courses on becoming a HAZWOPER instructor. There are several "Train the Trainer" certification courses available, but OSHA does not require a HAZWOPER instructor to attend one of those courses and does not recognize course completion to be proof an instructor is competent in the field. OSHA does recommend types of training that could be useful for a person to claim status as a HAZWOPER instructor, such as Industrial Hygiene or Safety courses, but they do not, by themselves, qualify a HAZWOPER instructor.

Familiarize yourself with OSHA HAZWOPER regulations. OSHA's website says, "OSHA does not have any specific requirements to certify an instructor (as of 1/20/05, most recent update on the subject of being a HAZWOPER instructor). The subjects that trainers should be able to convey to employees at hazardous waste operations who need training are summarized in paragraphs (e), (p) and (q) of the HAZWOPER standard. OSHA expects trainers to be fully versed in the topics covered in HAZWOPER training and to be able to explain the concepts and practical applications of those topics to their trainees."

Complete minimum training needed for a "Train the Trainer" course. Requirements before taking "Train the Trainer" HAZWOPER include completion of the HAZWOPER 24- (or 40-) hour course and practical experience with the handling and disposal of hazardous waste. Prior Safety, Environmental Science or Toxicology (or related) coursework is helpful but not required.

Shop around for the most complete "Train the Trainer" course available in your area. These "Train the Trainer" HAZWOPER courses vary among providers. Most include a review of HAZWOPER training including more detailed study on the OSHA standards and reporting requirements. They should offer classroom instruction, computer laboratory and field training. They can offer a certificate upon completion, but this is not OSHA certification.

Combine the available tools: Begin with HAZWOPER instruction as a student and then apply this training in a work environment. Take formal Safety or Industrial Hygiene courses prior to or in conjunction with a "Train the Trainer" course. This approach would meet the points suggested by OSHA.

Tip

Contact your local OSHA office for their suggestions regarding what they consider acceptable or unnecessary regarding training or certification. This may vary from office to office.

About the Author

Chris Donahue is an electrical engineer living in the Dallas area. He has worked on defense projects, semiconductor process equipment, instrumentation and is currently in water utilities. He earned his Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) standing in Texas in 1999.

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