Benefits of 8 Hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training
OSHA, the foremost authority on employee safety and health in the United States, emphasizes the importance of health and safety training in all their standards. Therefore, employers are expected to train and educate their employees on safety and health topics related to the workplace. Health and safety training becomes critical for occupations where workers must deal with chemicals and toxins, bloodborne pathogens, biohazards, radioactive material, fire hazards, flammable materials, hazardous waste, and a range of other hazardous substances. Employees who work in different industries such as telecommunications, airlines, construction, healthcare, etc., also must be trained on safety measures and hazard recognition. Worksites such as mining operations, trenching and excavation sites, roadworks, mills, factory operations, and medical and emergency services fall within construction safety training. When these different occupations, industries, and workplaces are combined, the result is the requirement to educate and train most of the American workforce in health and safety preparedness in the workplace.
The 8 Hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training Requirements
OSHA’s HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) standard provides guidance on health and safety training when workers are engaged in hazardous waste activities carried out in workplaces that work with hazardous material (HAZMAT). The HAZWOPER standard recommends employers give different levels of training for different job tasks and work responsibilities. The first is the initial training courses for all workers employed at such workplaces before they are allowed to begin work. Then there are the training programs directed at supervisors and managers. The third is the specialized training course for workers working in confined spaces, at heights (fall protection), handling HAZMAT, in hazardous waste management, and HAZMAT emergency responders. Finally, HAZWOPER specifies 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training for workers when there has been no significant change in their job duties and or the hazards present at workplaces. All these HAZMAT training courses must be taken annually, and a certification obtained from an authorized trainer. Employers’ should note that these HAZWOPER training programs are twofold, requiring both online training and field training for individual workers. The same applies to the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher courses.
The HAZWOPER standard suggests a total of 18 safety training courses, segregated into three sections. Section (e) focuses on training for general site workers engaged in operations conducted at hazardous waste sites that may or may not expose them to hazardous substances. This section has six training programs. Section (p) focuses on training for workers engaged in certain hazardous waste operations conducted under the RCRA and at the TSDFs. This section has two training courses. Finally, section (q) focuses on training for workers engaged in emergency response operations for release of, or substantial threat of release of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard. This section has a total of 10 online safety training programs. Of these 18 safety training programs, eight are ‘8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training courses’ aimed at fulfilling the requirements of the respective sections.
Why the Emphasis on 8-hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training Courses?
The 8-hour refresher course is designed to meet the annual training requirement for hazardous waste operations and emergency response workers. According to OSHA, these 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training courses as specified in sections (e), (p), and (q) is the minimum required training for HAZWOPER workers (OSHA Standard Interpretations Response Letter, 1992). These 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher courses are recommended as an annual revision to ensure workers who have already received other HAZWOPER training courses keep their knowledge on occupational health and safety accurate and updated.
For instance, the OSHA 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher online training for general workers under Section (e) mainly consists of a summary of subjects covered under the HAZWOPER 40-hour program. The list that follows gives guidance on a range of topics that may be reviewed during this 8-hour refresher HAZWOPER training program.
- Changes to the EPA or OSHA standards or laws.
- The HAZWOPER standard and any changes or updates.
- Core elements of an occupational safety and health program.
- Hazard Communication
- HAZWOPER site operations and site characterization.
- Medical surveillance.
- Classification of hazards.
- Personal protective equipment and when to use PPE.
- Air monitoring.
- Handling chemical hazards, hazardous substances, and hazardous wastes.
- Emergency response plan and procedures.
If possible, these topics may be customized to suit employer requirements and include any new developments which took place in the workplace in the preceding 12 months. However, as it has become exceedingly popular and cost-effective to use commercial online HAZWOPER trainers for the off-site portion of the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training, employers can provide employer-specific information to workers on-site at weekly or monthly employee meetings. Such information may include changes to the employer’s safety policies and procedures, analysis of hazardous incidents that have occurred in the past year, changes in or upgrades to equipment, and PPE usage requirements.
Important Note: The above is not an exhaustive list of topics covered under the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher course but a summary for understanding purposes only. An 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher online training course can differ depending on the target audience. Details by OSHA for the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training course requirements may be obtained from the non-mandatory Appendix H of the HAZWOPER standard.
Similarly, section (q) of the HAZWOPER standard gives in-depth details on the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training required by emergency personnel categorized as first responders, hazardous material specialists, hazardous material technicians, and incident commanders at a worksite. Section (p) meanwhile has the relevant information on the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training for workers involved in hazardous waste operations conducted under the RCRA and TSDFs.
What are the Advantages of an 8 hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training?
The advantage of taking the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training can be viewed from the employer’s and an employee’s perspective.
How does the 8 hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training benefit the Employer?
- Reduction in training costs
For employers, the most significant benefit is the possibility to reduce costs. The 8-hour HAZWOPER refresher training is less costly than the longer HAZWOPER training programs. Also, as the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher is available online, it is easily accessible by all employees working at different worksites and time zones.
- Reducing workplace accidents
Continuous training will ensure employees are current on changing safety regulations and processes. This will result in reduced accidents and injury and fewer fatalities at work. Fewer cases of workplace injuries mean less paperwork and official reports to file with authorities, thereby reducing the hassle of recordkeeping. Employers would also be able to reduce expenses for worker compensation while increasing the safety management rating of the worksite.
- Fulfilling regulatory requirements and safety compliance responsibilities
As the 8-hour refresher training is mandated by OSHA in its HAZWOPER standard, facilitating such employee training would result in OSHA compliance. Employers will also be able to avoid unfavorable legal issues when safety best practices are refreshed annually by the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher program plan. Besides, employers would be regarded as socially responsible corporates respecting workers’ rights.
- Emphasizing employee safety and health
As every employer is tasked with the responsibility of providing safe working conditions for their employees, regular training stresses the importance of workplace safety. Refresher training such as the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher online program also reiterates the employer’s views of workplace health and safety courses, hazardous material training, and investment in employee safety.
- Minimal time spent away from work
Online training courses will take workers away from work for a shorter time. This is true when employees take the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training as opposed to the longer safety training programs. By spending limited time away from work, or even taking a self-paced course during personal time, implies reduced workplace disruption and a negligible impact on productivity.
- Building an engaged workforce
Employers who ensure their employees are prepared to handle hazardous waste emergencies through regular 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training on health and safety will ensure a positive safety culture. Such employers will have a workforce that is secure in their knowledge of wellbeing at work. Ultimately, when employees are secure, happy, and engaged, they will be motivated to give their best in their job. This will result in high performances leading to higher productivity and successful business operations.
- Creating a positive organizational reputation
Organizations that have high health and safety standards and low injury rates are favored by prospective employees, especially in the construction industry. They succeed in building a good reputation in the industry and amongst key stakeholders. Sponsoring refresher trainings such as the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher course is one path to achieve this position.
How does the 8 hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training benefit Employees?
- Training at personal convenience
As the annual training is mandatory to keep the HAZWOPER training certifications current, the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher course is faster to complete. This means less time spent on training. Also, as the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training is often offered as an online training program, employees will be able to apply a self-paced training schedule.
- Knowledge retention is a key aspect of the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher program
Individuals will be successful in keeping knowledge of HAZWOPER regulatory, technical, and safety procedures current after following the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training. Repetition improves learning and helps people remember, and as some information received during the 8-hour refresher training may be rarely used, annual training ensures faster recall when there is an emergency.
- Safeguards against health hazard and increasing safety awareness
Workers who enroll in the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher online course will have the know-how to safeguard against personal accidents and injuries, hazardous incidents such as spills and contamination, and other site hazards. This will reduce lost time from work and preserve livelihoods and lifestyles. Workers who practice site safety will also have good work records. Such employees may also be given new work responsibilities and opportunities which enable them to grow their careers.
- Helps plan for future OSHA HAZWOPER safety training
As the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training is only a summary program, an employee taking the training would be able to identify gaps in his/her training and better understand future training needs. If required, workers can request considerably longer safety programs such as the HAZWOPER 40 or HAZWOPER 24 online training programs in the forthcoming year mentioning the need for in-depth knowledge on some topics.
- A sense of accomplishment after completing the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher program
Employees who are continually trained on safety measures and emergency procedures, feel the employer trusts them with their safety as well as the health and safety of their peers. This is one of the reasons that OSHA’s regulations encourage employee yearly training by using planned courses such as the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher program. As more information and knowledge is retained through retraining opportunities such as those provided by the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher trainings, employees will gain a sense of achievement while becoming more confident in themselves. This will ultimately become personal motivating factors.
Finally, Ensure the 8 hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training or any safety and health training is effective
When deciding on an 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training, ensure the training program and the trainer are effective and meet workplace safety training requirements. Remember, the training course is expected to energize the workforce and increase employee safety, self-worth, and motivation. So, choose the right online training course by answering the following questions:
Q1: Will the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher course make my employees competent in the workplace?
Q2: Does the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training cover topics which are relevant to my business operations?
Q3: Will the chosen 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher training program help the company motivate and engage our employees?
Q4: Will the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher course offer advice from authorized trainers?
Q5: Will the 8 hour HAZWOPER refresher online training give a certificate of completion of training to my employees?
OSHA Standard Interpretations Response Letter. (1992, July 21). https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1992-07-21-0