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Standards Interpretation and Compliance Letters

First Responders, Training, Hazardous Materials Technician, etc.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. OSHA's interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that their enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time they update their guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

November 9, 1990

C.L. Wright, Jr.
Safety Manager
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
Post Office Box 8531
Harrisburg, PA 17105

Dear Mr. Wright:

Thank you for your letter of October 12, concerning the training requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard 29 CFR 1910.120 Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.

29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(ii) addresses the anticipated activities and the 8 hour training requirement for first responder operations level. As you discussed with Don Harvey of this office on October 24, first responders operations level function in a defensive fashion without actually trying to stop the release of a hazardous substance. Review of the anticipated duties for your employees include some activities, such as plugging of leaking fuel tanks, which assume an aggressive role in stopping the release.

29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(iii) addresses the role of a hazardous material technician in an emergency response. As discussed in this paragraph, hazardous material technicians assume a more aggressive role than a first responder operations level in that they will approach the point of release in order to plug, patch or otherwise stop the release of a hazardous substance. Hazardous materials technicians must receive at least 24 hours of training which provides the equivalent of the first responder operations level training and which will also provides other specific competencies as outlined in the standard. Therefore, your 8-hour training, as outlined in your letter, would not be sufficient for employees engaged in attempting to stop a release.

At the present time, OSHA does not certify or approve training courses for employees under 29 CFR 1910.120. It is the responsibility of the employer to assure that the course content adequately addresses the potential hazards to the employee which may be encountered in the course of an emergency response. We are not familiar with the content and structure of the documents and information upon which you have structured your training.

I suggest that you contact your local OSHA Area Office at the address and telephone number below for assistance.

U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
Progress Plaza 49 North
Progress Street
Harrisburg, PA 17109
Telephone: (717) 782-3902

I trust this discussion has adequately addressed your specific questions.


Patricia Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

October 12, 1990

Ms. Patricia Clark
Directorate of Compliance Programs OSHA,
Room N3463
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Ms. Clark:

Last week l spoke to Mr. David M. Smith, of your office, regarding training requirements of OSHA/EPA 29 CFR 1910.120. Mr. Smith suggested that l write to you and explain our situation and request your expert opinion of the following proposed course of instruction for our employees.

Please provide guidance and direction in these areas. Our intent is not the re-iteration of the regulation simply the clear understanding of the "gray" areas, so to speak, and future intents of OSHA.

We have employees who respond to accidents and incidents on the Turnpike system as first responders. Their duties include traffic control, rendering first aid and/or CPR when necessary, roadway cleanup and sign placement. Additionally, they provide containment of gasoline and diesel spills, including use of absorbent pads, pillows, booms, petrosorb, and plug and diking procedures of a minor nature. This containment procedure occurs only for passenger car and truck fuel tanks.

Whenever a commercial tanker or loaded box trailer, containing hazardous materials, is involved, we notify the fire service, the county haz-mat team, as well as contracted haz-mat cleanup and disposal services, which are on call to the Turnpike to provide this service.

We are asking for an interpretation of the following course proposal and whether it would meet the necessary training requirements and the appropriate level of training.


Recognition, familiarization and identification of hazardous materials

Activation of Emergency Response System

Basic decontamination procedures

Use of personal protective equipment

Risks and hazards of gasoline and diesel spills

MSDS review for gasoline and diesel fuel

Commission directive regarding cleanup of minor gasoline and diesel spills

Written test covering all of the above topics

We are presently in the process of having all of our safety advisors trained at the awareness level by the State Fire Academy. They have all had previous hazardous materials emergency training at this academy. The safety advisors will then instruct those maintenance employees, previously referenced in this letter.

Your response to this letter would be appreciated. We would like to start our training program this fall. If you need to discuss any of the information in this letter with me, please contact me at 717/939-9551, extension 2980.


C.L. Wright, Jr.
Safety Manager

More information on "Letters of Interpretations" can be found on OSHA's Website at www.osha.gov