The term appears in hazardous waste treatment regulations currently published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); however, the term predates OSHA, originating from disaster clean-ups sponsored by the Department of Energy. This program that was implemented on military bases that were tasked to discard hazardous waste accumulated in the construction of the atom bomb at the Hanford Site. By 1989, more emphasis was given on clean-up operations for sites across all industries, especially those contaminated with radionuclides and chemical substances.
The relevance of HAZWOPER training online dates back to World War II up to the 70s and early 80s, following a series of environmental accidents have prompted authorities to encourage the state to come up with a HAZWOPER training plan for workers. These incidents include the Love Canal disaster in New York, and the Valley of the Drums in Kentucky to name a few. These incidents left a lot of people suffering from a wide range of health problems and brought tremendous damage to the environment and communities.
The passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (also referred to as Superfund) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) paved the way for the need for a training program that will equip workers the necessary knowledge and skills for cleaning generated wastes. OSHA has then created HAZWOPER with backing from the USCG, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
HAZWOPER was born out of the release of a Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Guidance Manual in 1984. Flash forward to five years later, OSHA promulgated the HAZWOPER standard, codified as 29 CFR 1910.120. The standard detailed the health and safety requirements companies are obligated to fulfill for their employees. The standard also provided information on how to perform job-specific clean-up tasks.