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OSHA safety training standards, part 2: hazardous substances

In the first part of this post, we began discussing the training standards required of employers by federal regulations.

As we noted, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set out guidelines for employers in order to protect the health and safety of their workers.

In this part of the post, let's look in more detail at some of the specific challenges that these safety guidelines are designed to address.

In particular, we will consider one particular setting that is well known to be dangerous. That is the handling of hazardous waste. We will try to address other risky settings, such as the construction industry, in upcoming posts.

The training standards for hazardous waste operations require all employees who are exposed to hazardous substances or health hazards to receive safety training. The elements of the training are to include:

  • Identification of hazards
  • Appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Work practices for minimizing risks and using equipment safely
  • Recognition of symptoms of excessive exposure to hazardous substances

OSHA guidelines distinguish between training for general site workers and workers who are on a work site for a limited time to perform a specific task.

For general site workers who handle hazardous waste or are regularly (or even potentially) exposed to hazardous substances, the basic guideline for training is 40 hours of safety instruction in an offsite context, along with at least three days of properly supervised field experience.

For workers who come on site for a limited time to perform a specific task, the training standards do not require quite as many hours of safety training and supervision. But there are still training standards for these workers, even though there are not onsite on a full-time basis.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines," Accessed April 4, 2014

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