Manufacturing companies can have a difficult time determining which employees may be required to have Hazwoper or spill training under 29 CFR 1910.120.
Paragraph (q) of 1910.120 covers emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard. However, responses to releases of hazardous substances where there is no potential safety or health hazard are not considered to be emergency responses. Incidental releases of hazardous substances where the substance can be absorbed, neutralized, or otherwise controlled at the time of the release by employees in the immediate release area, or by maintenance personnel, are not considered to be emergency responses within the scope of the standard.
Appendix A of OSHA Directive CPL 02-02-073 – Inspection Procedures for 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65 , Paragraph (q): Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases provides a more thorough discussion of the distinction between incidental releases of hazardous substances and releases that require an emergency response, and hence, compliance with the provisions of 1910.120(q) [Get OSHA Answer Book].
Hence, employees cleaning up routine spills or spills not deemed to cause a potential or actual safety hazard may not require formal Hazwoper training. However, employees should always be trained on the proper procedure for cleaning up spills even if not subject to the Hazwoper standard. This routine spill training could include hazard identification, PPE selection, spill response, and disposal of spill wastes and can be completed in 1 to 2 hour session. The training should be completed at the time of hire and refresher training conducted every 1 to 2 years. This training, even though not specifically required by regulations, will insure proper response to routine chemical spills. Many companies will choose to train a handful of employees (“Spill Team”) to the Operations Level Hawoper (8 hour) training. This provides a core team who can direct and manage containment of larger spills. Well trained employees will minimize EHS risks and liabilities for your company.