This occupational safety and health topic page covers two subjects: hazardous waste site operations and emergency response to the uncontrolled release of chemicals. To begin this discussion, we will define two terms, "hazardous waste" and "emergency response."
Hazardous waste is defined as:
a waste or combination of wastes as defined in 40 CFR 261.3, or
those substances defined as hazardous wastes in 49 CFR 171.8
"Emergency response" or "responding to an emergency" is defined as a response effort by employees from outside the immediate release area or by other designated responders to an occurrence which results, or is likely to result, in an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance. An emergency response does not include a response to incidental releases of hazardous substances where the substance can be absorbed, neutralized, or otherwise controlled at the time of release by employees in the immediate area or by maintenance personnel. Also not included are responses to releases of hazardous substances where there is no potential safety or health hazard.
What are the hazards associated with hazardous waste?
Occupational exposure to hazardous waste can result in acute and chronic illness, and death, due to lack of training and protective clothing and equipment. In addition, uncontrolled release of hazardous waste can also result in property damage when incompatible chemical wastes are allowed to mix.
What can I do to protect myself?
Employees should never attempt to clean up chemical spills unless they have received the appropriate training and are equipped to respond to the spill. If a chemical release is observed from outside your work area, notify your supervisor and evacuate the area.
What resources are available to assist employers?
Training and Outreach Services
In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.
Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).
Safety and Health Programs
A hazardous chemical emergency response plan, hazard communication program, respirator program and PPE hazard assessment can be downloaded and customized to fit an individual workplace. In addition, presentations on hazard communication, respiratory protection, and PPE can be used for employee training.
A-Z Safety and Health Topics
The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.
Which standards apply?
OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to hazardous waste operations and emergency response in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.
29 CFR 1910.120 - hazardous waste operations and emergency response
29 CFR 1926.65 - hazardous waste operations and emergency response
In addition, North Carolina has added the following state-specific rule for hazardous waste operations and emergency response:
13 NCAC 07F .0103 - hazardous materials
Other standards that may apply to hazardous waste operations and emergency response:
29 CFR 1910.119 - process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals
29 CFR 1910.132 - personal protective equipment, general requirements
29 CFR 1910.134 - respiratory protection
29 CFR 1910.1020 - access to employee exposure and medical records
29 CFR 1910.1200 - hazard communication
Other Applicable Standards
The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.
Where can I learn more?
Compliance directive CPL 02-02-073, Inspection Procedures for 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65 Paragraph (q): Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Release, establishes enforcement policy for emergency response to chemical releases and provides an explanation of this part of the standard to ensure uniform enforcement.
Compliance directive CPL 02-02-051, Inspection Guidelines for Post-Emergency Response Operations Under 29 CFR 1910.120, establishes enforcement policy of training for employees involved in post-emergency response operations.
SN 63 - Requirements for Workers Who Are Actively Conducting Operations in IDLH Atmospheres discusses the requirements for workers conducting operations in atmospheres classified as being immediately dangerous to life and health.
Industry Guide 48 - OSHA Construction Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, provides requirements for HAZWOPER and other related construction standards.
Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, includes requirements for HAZWOPER and other related general industry standards.
If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919-707-7876.