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If you work in cleanup in a hazardous environment – say, a dumpsite for industrial pollutants – or even if you’re just an employee visiting a designated uncontrolled hazardous waste operation, you’re required by law to have had the appropriate HAZPOWER training and have secured your HAZWOPER training. If you don’t have training, you’re not only endangering yourself (and others, perhaps), but also opening your employer to severe penalty for allowing you to work in a hazardous environment without HAZWOPER training.

HAZWOPER stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, a program designed and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect workers at hazardous sites. OSHA is a pivotal component of the United States Department of Labor; without OSHA and HAZWOPER, the annual number of work-related injuries and fatalities (4,551 workers in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries) would intolerably be higher.


Having a HAZWOPER training not just ensures your safety (and your coworkers’, too) at the workplace, it also boosts your employability and salary minimum. According to PayScale, environmental health and safety (EHS) managers with HAZWOPER 40-Hour earn at least $50,335 (with a range from $50,335 to $99,616) while an EHS without a HAZWOPER training can expect to earn a minimum of $48,392.

How Do You Get Certified?

You get certified by passing the HAZWOPER training exam. This exam is given by an OSHA authorized training provider ( after you successfully complete an OSHA-compliant training course, which comes in several forms depending on the nature of the job and the type of hazardous environment your job is in.

Passing Your Certification Exam

To have the highest chances of hurdling the exam, you need to enroll in a HAZWOPER training course. There are three basic training courses: the HAZPOWER 8-Hour, the HAZPOWER 24-Hour, and the HAZPOWER 40-Hour.

The HAZPOWER 8-Hour is designed for general site workers who remove hazardous waste or who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances or health hazards. Topics included in the course are HAZWOPER regulations, site characterization, toxicology, hazard recognition, personal protective equipment, decontamination, medical surveillance, confined-space entry, and emergency procedures. HAZPOWER 8-Hour meets the OSHA requirements for eight hours of annual refresher training for workers at hazardous waste sites.

The HAZPOWER 24-Hour is required for workers visiting an uncontrolled hazardous waste operation. It is designed for workers who are on site only occasionally and who are unlikely to be exposed to permissible limits; or those who are regularly on site but who work in areas which have been monitored and fully characterized indicating that exposures are under permissible limits. It covers 24 hours of instruction that are required by 29 CFR 1910.120(e) (3), OSHA’s Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response training standard.

The HAZWOPER 40-Hour is required for workers whose duties and activities expose or potentially expose them to hazardous substances. It is specifically designed for workers who are involved in cleanup operations, emergency response operations, and storage, disposal, or treatment of hazardous substances or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Topics include protection against hazardous chemicals, elimination of hazardous chemicals, safety of workers and the environment, and OSHA regulations. HAZWOPER 40 covers topics included in 29 CFR 1910.120.

The final exam is given at the end of each of these training courses. The student must obtain a score of 70% or higher to earn a HAZWOPER training.