How to Get HAZWOPER Certified in 2024? (Step-by-Step)

How to Get HAZWOPER Certified?

To get HAZWOPER certified, you must complete a training course that meets the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under 29 CFR 1910.120. Here’s a technical breakdown of the process:

  1. Determine the Appropriate Training Level: OSHA outlines different training requirements based on specific roles and exposure levels. For instance:
    • General Site Workers (such as those engaged in clean-up operations at hazardous waste sites) require a 40-hour course plus three days of field experience under a trained supervisor.
    • Occasional Site Workers (who are less frequently exposed to hazardous substances) need a 24-hour course and one day of field experience.
    • Emergency Response Personnel have varying requirements based on their specific roles and responsibilities, as detailed in OSHA’s 1910.120(q).
    • Read below for a further explanation
  2. Enroll in an Accredited Training Program: Choose a program that meets OSHA’s guidelines. This training can be provided by employers, third-party training organizations, or through online platforms, as long as they adhere to OSHA’s curriculum requirements. See below how to choose a training provider.
  3. Complete the Required Course Hours: Engage in the necessary coursework. For a 40-hour course, the content will cover topics such as hazardous materials recognition, chemical and physical properties of hazardous substances, potential health hazards, and protective measures. See below how to complete the required hours.
  4. Field Experience: For the 40-hour and 24-hour courses, hands-on experience under a qualified supervisor is required. This is to ensure the practical application of learned skills in real-world scenarios. See below how to earn field experience.
  5. Pass the Final Assessment: Demonstrate proficiency in the course material through a written exam, practical demonstration, or both, as required by the training provider. See below how to pass it.
  6. Receive Certification: Upon successful completion of the course and assessment, you will be awarded a HAZWOPER certification.
  7. Annual 8-Hour Refresher Course: Maintain certification by completing an 8-hour refresher course annually, as mandated by OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(8) to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

It’s important to ensure that the training provider’s curriculum aligns with OSHA’s standards for the HAZWOPER certification to be valid and recognized.

Understanding HAZWOPER Certification Requirements

Understanding the requirements for the certification involves a technical breakdown of the various training courses and their prerequisites. The HAZWOPER standards, established under OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 29 CFR 1910.120, are designed to protect workers at hazardous sites and are categorized mainly into three types of certifications: the 40-hour, 24-hour, and 8-hour refresher courses. Here’s a detailed look:

  1. 40-Hour HAZWOPER Training
    • Target Group: This certification is primarily intended for workers involved in the cleanup operations, voluntary clean-up operations, disposal, or emergency response operations involving hazardous substances.
    • Content Overview: The course covers a wide range of topics including but not limited to personal protective equipment (PPE), hazardous chemicals, decontamination methods, toxicology, emergency procedures, and site characterization.
    • Hands-On Requirement: A minimum of three days of field experience under a trained, experienced supervisor.
    • Prerequisites: There are no formal prerequisites, but a basic understanding of chemistry and environmental science is recommended.
  2. 24-Hour HAZWOPER Training
    • Target Group: Designed for workers visiting an Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Operation mandated by the government.
    • Content Overview: This training includes topics like hazard recognition, risk assessment, and basic response strategies but is less comprehensive than the 40-hour course.
    • Hands-On Requirement: One day of field experience is necessary.
    • Prerequisites: Similar to the 40-hour course, no formal prerequisites are required, but a fundamental understanding of related scientific and chemical concepts is beneficial.
  3. 8-Hour HAZWOPER Refresher Training
    • Target Group: This course is for those who have already completed either the 40-hour or 24-hour training. It’s an annual requirement to keep the certification valid.
    • Content Overview: The refresher course focuses on a review of key concepts, new technologies, and updates in regulations and practices in hazardous waste operations.
    • Certification Requirement: Proof of completion of either the 40-hour or 24-hour training.
    • Prerequisites: Valid previous HAZWOPER certification is mandatory.

Each of these certifications requires passing a final exam to demonstrate competency in the course material. The exam typically consists of multiple-choice questions covering the technical aspects of hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

It’s important to note that these training courses must be conducted by qualified instructors who meet OSHA’s criteria for training providers. The training should align with the specific roles and responsibilities of the workers and the particular hazards they will face in their work environment.

Identifying the Appropriate Level is Important so That You Can Assess Which Training Suits You

1. Different Training Levels Under HAZWOPER

a. 40-Hour Training

  • Target Audience: This level is designed for workers involved in the cleanup, emergency response, storage, disposal, or treatment of hazardous waste. It’s also suitable for those who are regularly exposed to hazardous substances and health hazards at work sites.
  • Course Content: Includes extensive training on hazard recognition, personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination procedures, and emergency response.
  • Field Experience: Requires three days of actual field experience under the direct supervision of a trained, experienced supervisor.

b. 24-Hour Training

  • Target Audience: Ideal for occasional site workers who are not regularly exposed to hazardous substances, or for those whose work activities do not expose them to hazardous levels of these substances.
  • Course Content: Covers a similar range of topics as the 40-hour training but in less detail, given the lower risk level of exposure.
  • Field Experience: Includes one day of field experience under supervision.

c. Emergency Response Personnel Training

  • Target Audience: Specifically tailored for individuals who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release and who are trained to initiate an emergency response.
  • Levels of Training: Varies from first responder awareness level to hazardous materials technician, each with different hours and content requirements.

2. Criteria for Determining Training Level

a. Job Role and Responsibilities

  • Exposure Frequency: Regular exposure to hazardous substances necessitates the 40-hour training, whereas occasional exposure calls for the 24-hour training.
  • Nature of Work: Workers in roles involving active cleanup operations need more comprehensive training compared to those in less hazardous positions.

b. Site Specificity

  • Worksite Hazard Assessment: The nature and degree of hazards present at a specific worksite play a crucial role in determining the necessary training level.
  • Employer’s Safety Policy: Employer assessments and safety policies can also dictate the level of training required, sometimes going beyond the minimum OSHA requirements.

c. Regulatory Compliance

  • OSHA Requirements: Compliance with OSHA’s standards under 29 CFR 1910.120 is mandatory. The specific role and site conditions dictate which training level meets these standards.

d. Emergency Response Role

  • Level of Involvement: The extent of an individual’s role in emergency response (from awareness to active intervention) determines the specific training required within the emergency response category.

Understanding these criteria is essential for employers and employees to ensure that the correct level of HAZWOPER training is pursued, aligning with both safety needs and regulatory compliance.

Read related article: How to Take the Hazwoper Training for New Employees?

Selecting an Accredited Training Program

When selecting a HAZWOPER training program, it is imperative to ensure that the program adheres to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standards under 29 CFR 1910.120. A meticulous approach to this selection process is crucial. Here is a detailed and technically oriented guide:

1. Verification of OSHA Compliance

  • Accreditation Confirmation: Ascertain that the training provider is accredited and their program aligns with OSHA’s stringent standards outlined in 29 CFR 1910.120.
  • Curricular Rigor: Ensure the curriculum comprehensively covers all essential aspects mandated by OSHA, including hazard recognition, exposure limits, toxicology, and emergency response protocols.

2. Evaluation of Provider Credibility

  • Operational Tenure and Pedigree: Investigate the provider’s history in delivering HAZWOPER training. Long-standing providers with a robust training pedigree are preferable.
  • Instructor Expertise: Scrutinize the qualifications and field experience of the instructors. They should possess significant expertise in industrial hygiene, toxicology, environmental engineering, or related fields.

3. Delivery Method Analysis

  • Mode of Training: Delineate between online and in-person training modalities. Online courses offer flexibility and are often self-paced, while in-person sessions provide hands-on experience and direct instructor interaction.
  • Engagement and Interactivity: For online courses, assess the level of interactivity, such as real-time Q&A sessions, virtual simulations, and scenario-based learning modules.

4. Hands-On Training Component

  • Practical Application: Ensure the course includes a practical component, particularly for the 40-hour and 24-hour training programs. This should involve supervised field experience in a real or simulated environment.

5. Financial and Logistical Considerations

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Evaluate the program cost against the depth and quality of training offered. Avoid compromising content quality for economic reasons.
  • Accessibility and Convenience: For in-person training, consider logistical factors like location and schedule. For online programs, assess the technical requirements and platform compatibility.

6. Post-Training Certification Process

  • Certification Issuance: Confirm the process for obtaining certification upon completion. This includes issuance of certificates and wallet-sized cards indicating the trainee’s name, training level, and completion date.
  • Record-Keeping Protocols: The provider should maintain detailed training records in compliance with OSHA’s record-keeping requirements.

7. Employer-Specific Requirements

  • Alignment with Employer Policies: Some employers may have specific requirements or preferred providers. Ensure the chosen program aligns with these organizational prerequisites.

8. Course Content Relevancy and Updating

  • Regular Curriculum Updates: The training program should regularly update its content to incorporate the latest OSHA regulations, technological advancements, and industry best practices.

Selecting an accredited HAZWOPER training program requires a thorough evaluation of the provider’s compliance with OSHA standards, the depth and relevancy of the curriculum, the quality of instruction, delivery method, practical training components, cost and logistical considerations, certification process, and alignment with specific employer requirements. This diligent approach ensures that the training received is comprehensive, compliant, and applicable to real-world hazardous waste operations and emergency response scenarios.

Completing Required Coursework and Field Experience

1. Coursework Breakdown for 40-Hour Training Program

  • Hazard Recognition: Training in identifying various types of hazards present in hazardous waste operations.
  • Chemical and Physical Properties: Understanding the properties of hazardous materials, including toxicity, flammability, and reactivity.
  • Health Hazards: Detailed study of potential health hazards associated with exposure to hazardous substances, including chemical, biological, and physical hazards.
  • Safety Procedures: Instruction on safety procedures, including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), containment, and spill control techniques.
  • Regulatory Overview: An overview of relevant regulations such as OSHA standards, EPA guidelines, and other federal and state regulations.
  • Decontamination Procedures: Training in decontamination methods and the management of decontamination zones.
  • Emergency Response: Preparation for emergency situations, including evacuation procedures, emergency medical care, and incident command system.

2. Coursework Breakdown for 24-Hour Training Program

  • Hazard Awareness: Basic training in recognizing and understanding hazards present at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Exposure Prevention: Emphasis on preventing exposure to hazardous substances and understanding exposure limits.
  • Use of PPE: Training in the selection, use, and maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Basic Safety Practices: Introduction to safety practices and procedures in hazardous waste operations.
  • Regulatory Familiarity: Basic understanding of applicable regulations and compliance requirements.
  • Emergency Response Basics: Awareness of emergency response procedures and basic actions to take in emergency situations.

3. Mandatory Field Experience Component

  • For 40-Hour Training: Requires three days of supervised field experience. This includes hands-on practice in a real or simulated hazardous waste operation environment.
  • For 24-Hour Training: Involves one day of field experience under supervision, focusing on practical application of the learned concepts in a controlled setting.

4. Significance of Field Experience

  • Practical Application: Allows trainees to apply classroom knowledge in practical scenarios, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
  • Skill Development: Enhances skills in hazard recognition, equipment handling, and emergency response in a controlled, supervised environment.
  • Safety Proficiency: Builds confidence and proficiency in implementing safety procedures and using protective gear effectively.
  • Compliance with OSHA Standards: Meets OSHA’s requirement for hands-on experience, ensuring a comprehensive understanding and application of safety practices in hazardous waste operations.

The combination of intensive coursework and mandatory field experience in both the 40-hour and 24-hour HAZWOPER training programs ensures that workers are thoroughly prepared to handle the complexities and dangers of working with hazardous materials, fulfilling both safety and regulatory requirements.

In-Depth Look at the Training Curriculum

An in-depth analysis of the training curriculum reveals a comprehensive and technical approach designed to prepare workers for handling hazardous waste and emergency situations. The course coverage is structured under the guidelines of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 29 CFR 1910.120 and encompasses various modules, each addressing critical aspects of hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

  1. Toxicology:
    • Topics Covered: Understanding of chemical properties, toxicokinetics, and toxicodynamics; mechanisms of toxicity; exposure routes; dose-response relationships; acute and chronic toxicities.
    • Real-World Application: Enables workers to assess and manage chemical hazards, understand exposure limits, and implement appropriate safety measures.
  2. Chemical and Physical Properties of Hazardous Materials:
    • Topics Covered: Chemical reactivity, flammability, corrosivity, pH levels, solubility, and volatility.
    • Real-World Application: Fundamental in identifying and categorizing hazardous substances, critical in developing safe handling and response strategies.
  3. Decontamination Procedures:
    • Topics Covered: Decontamination methods (physical and chemical), decontamination zones, selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination waste disposal.
    • Real-World Application: Essential for ensuring worker and environmental safety, preventing secondary contamination.
  4. Emergency Response and Contingency Planning:
    • Topics Covered: Emergency response plan development, incident command system (ICS), spill containment methods, first-aid and CPR.
    • Real-World Application: Prepares workers for immediate and effective action in emergency scenarios, minimizing health risks and environmental impact.
  5. Site Characterization and Analysis:
    • Topics Covered: Preliminary evaluation, detailed survey, sampling strategies, risk assessment.
    • Real-World Application: Critical for identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and determining necessary control measures.
  6. Handling and Disposal of Hazardous Materials:
    • Topics Covered: Packaging, labeling, transportation, storage, and disposal regulations; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) compliance.
    • Real-World Application: Ensures legal compliance and safe practices in the management and disposal of hazardous substances.
  7. Hands-On Training Components:
    • Exercises: Simulated hazardous material spills, PPE donning and doffing drills, decontamination procedures, emergency response simulations.
    • Real-World Application: Provides practical experience, enhancing the ability to respond effectively in real-life hazardous situations.
  8. Health and Safety Aspects:
    • Topics Covered: OSHA health and safety standards, heat stress, cold exposure, noise hazards, respiratory protection.
    • Real-World Application: Focuses on worker health and safety, emphasizing the importance of protective measures against occupational hazards.
  9. Regulatory Overview:
    • Topics Covered: Overview of relevant OSHA standards, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, DOT (Department of Transportation) guidelines.
    • Real-World Application: Offers a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework governing hazardous waste operations, ensuring regulatory compliance.

This curriculum is not only rich in technical content but also emphasizes practical skills through hands-on training, preparing workers for the complexities and dangers associated with hazardous waste operations and emergency responses. The training is designed to be dynamic, incorporating the latest industry practices and technological advancements, ensuring that workers are well-equipped to handle hazardous materials safely and effectively.

Assessment and Certification of the Training Course

The examination and certification process for HAZWOPER is a structured and rigorous procedure, designed to ensure that individuals possess the necessary knowledge and skills for safe and effective handling of hazardous materials. Here’s a detailed, technical guide on the process:

Examination Process

  1. Completion of Training:
    • Participants must first complete the requisite HAZWOPER training (40-hour, 24-hour, or 8-hour refresher), which includes both theoretical and practical components.
  2. Eligibility Verification:
    • Training providers verify that participants have met all the necessary prerequisites, including any required hands-on training components.
  3. Examination Scheduling:
    • After completing the training, participants are scheduled for the certification examination, typically conducted by the training provider.
  4. Examination Format:
    • The exam usually consists of a mixture of multiple-choice and true/false questions.
    • The number of questions can vary but typically ranges from 50 to 100, depending on the course complexity.
  5. Assessment Criteria:
    • Examinees must achieve a minimum score to pass, often set at 70% or above.
  6. Certification Issuance:
    • Upon successful completion of the exam, a HAZWOPER certificate is issued, usually valid for a specific period, such as one year for the 8-hour refresher course.

Preparation Tips for the HAZWOPER Exam

  1. Review Course Material:
    • Thoroughly review all training materials, focusing on key topics like toxicology, decontamination, and emergency response procedures.
  2. Understand Regulations:
    • Familiarize yourself with relevant OSHA standards (29 CFR 1910.120) and other regulatory guidelines.
  3. Practical Application:
    • Emphasize understanding practical applications of theoretical knowledge, such as how to properly use PPE or implement decontamination procedures.
  4. Practice Tests:
    • Take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions that may appear on the actual test.
  5. Study Groups:
    • Consider joining a study group to discuss and clarify complex topics with peers.

Certification Renewal and Ongoing Training

  1. Annual Refresher Course:
    • HAZWOPER certification, particularly the 40-hour and 24-hour certifications, requires an annual 8-hour refresher course to maintain validity.
  2. Renewal Process:
    • The renewal process involves completing the refresher course and passing the associated exam.
  3. Staying Updated:
    • Stay informed about changes in regulations and best practices. Regularly attending workshops and seminars can be beneficial.
  4. Record Keeping:
    • Keep a log of all continuing education and training activities. This documentation is essential for verifying compliance with OSHA requirements.

By adhering to these guidelines, individuals seeking HAZWOPER certification can effectively navigate the examination process and maintain their credentials through ongoing education and training, ensuring continued competency in hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

How Can You Demonstrate That You Have Completed the Necessary HAZWOPER Training Successfully?

To answer this, I would like to drive your eyeball on this rule:

The HAZWOPER standard requires that a written certificate be given to each person certified for either 8-, 24- or 40-hour HAZWOPER training. For 24- or 40-hour training, if the employee has received equivalent training, the employer can demonstrate such equivalency by documentation or certification.. See 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(6) and 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(9).

Citation: OSHA website; FAQs

Maintaining Certification: Annual Refresher Course

This OSHA rule will apply:

Employees should stay up-to-date in the refresher training, although OSHA does understand that courses may be missed because of unavoidable circumstances. If you have missed a refresher training course, you must attend the next available course. If a substantial amount of time has passed since your initial or refresher training, then repeating the initial training may be necessary. The time frame within which it would be necessary to provide extensive retraining must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, workers must be trained sufficiently to allow them to perform their expected job duties in a safe and healthful manner.

Citation: OSHA, FAQs Section

The requirement for an annual 8-hour HAZWOPER refresher course is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under 29 CFR 1910.120. This refresher course is essential for individuals who have completed either the 40-hour or 24-hour HAZWOPER training. It serves as a crucial aspect of maintaining their certification and ensuring they remain competent in their roles.

The importance of the refresher course lies in its role in updating and reinforcing the knowledge and skills necessary for safely managing hazardous waste operations and responding to emergencies. Hazardous waste management and emergency response fields are continuously evolving with new safety protocols, technological advancements, and changes in regulations. The refresher course keeps workers abreast of these developments.

Additionally, staying current with this training is a legal requirement, ensuring compliance with OSHA regulations. This helps in avoiding legal issues and potential fines due to non-compliance. It also plays a significant role in risk mitigation by equipping workers with updated skills and knowledge to handle hazardous materials safely, thereby reducing the likelihood of accidents and enhancing workplace safety.

Overall, the annual 8-hour refresher course reflects a professional commitment to maintaining high safety standards and ethical responsibility in hazardous waste operations and emergency response work environments. It underscores the dedication to personal safety, the safety of colleagues, and environmental protection.


Achieving HAZWOPER certification is an essential milestone for professionals involved in hazardous waste operations and emergency response. This guide has outlined the critical steps and considerations for obtaining HAZWOPER certification, a process meticulously regulated by OSHA under 29 CFR 1910.120. Whether you’re aiming for the 40-hour, 24-hour, or emergency response training, understanding the specific requirements and selecting an accredited training program are key to your success.

Through a combination of comprehensive coursework and practical field experience, this certification process ensures you gain the requisite knowledge and skills. Successfully navigating the assessments, encompassing both written exams and practical demonstrations, culminates in the achievement of the certification. However, the journey doesn’t end there. The annual 8-hour refresher course is imperative to maintain your certification, ensuring you remain current with evolving safety protocols and regulatory updates.

For those committed to safety and excellence in hazardous waste management and emergency response, obtaining HAZWOPER certification is more than compliance – it’s a commitment to professional growth and workplace safety. As you embark on this journey, remember that maintaining your certification is vital for staying at the forefront of industry standards and best practices. This guide aims to be your go-to resource for understanding how to get certified, empowering you with the knowledge to navigate this essential professional requirement.


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