No matter the job, most professionals agree that good training is an effective way to communicate the proper procedure to perform a task. If you generate any hazardous waste at all, you should have a method to communicate the appropriate information to affected employees; training may be the method you use. Depending on the amount of hazardous waste you generate – take this survey to determine your generator status – you may be required to provide training of a specific format at a set frequency in order to maintain compliance.
- A Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) of hazardous waste is not required by regulation to conduct any training for its facility personnel, though awareness of the applicable regulations and safe work practices is a good idea.
- A Small Quantity Generator (SQG) of hazardous waste is required to “ensure that all employees are thoroughly familiar with proper waste handling and emergency procedures, relevant to their responsibilities during normal facility operations and emergencies” [40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(iii)]. While it does not explicitly require formal training, completion of some form of documented training of your employees is recommended to ensure compliance.
- A Large Quantity Generator (LQG) of hazardous waste must provide and document annual training for facility personnel as required by 40 CFR 265.16.
“But wait a minute”, you say; 40 CFR 265.16 –indeed all of 40 CFR 265 – is written for owners of hazardous waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF’s) and doesn’t apply to a generator of hazardous waste like me. True, but the regulations for LQG’s found at 40 CFR 262.34(a)(4) mandate compliance with 40 CFR 265.16. As an LQG you therefore have the same training requirement for your facility personnel as a TSDF.
Those who must receive training i.e., facility personnel are defined as “all persons who work at, or oversee the operations of, a hazardous waste facility, and whose actions or failure to act may result in noncompliance with the requirements of part 264 or 265 of this chapter” (40 CFR 260.10). In other words, any employee – including temps, contractors, part or full-time, consultants, off-site managers, and others – whose lack of knowledge about the hazardous waste regulations could result in a violation of same must receive training.
One exception is employees who work only with hazardous waste in a satellite accumulation area (SAA). This is because the regulations for SAA’s at 40 CFR 262.34(c)(1)(i) do not include a reference to the training requirements of 40 CFR 265.16 or any other.
It is up to you as the generator to determine the content of your training, US EPA only provides two performance standards: the training must teach facility personnel…
- “…to perform their duties in a way that ensures the facility’s compliance with the requirements of this part.” And;
- “…hazardous waste management procedures (including contingency plan implementation) relevant to the positions in which they are employed.”
So, you must identify what RCRA regulations are applicable to your facility and then instruct employees on what they must do to maintain compliance. Training must also include procedures your facility has developed to manage its hazardous waste.
US EPA is clearer about what it expects the training to include regarding emergency response: “At a minimum, the training program must be designed to ensure that facility personnel are able to respond effectively to emergencies by familiarizing them with emergency procedures, emergency equipment, and emergency systems, including where applicable:
- Procedures for using, inspecting, repairing, and replacing facility emergency and monitoring equipment;
- Key parameters for automatic waste feed cut-off systems;
- Communications or alarm systems;
- Response to fires or explosions;
- Response to ground-water contamination incidents; and
- Shutdown of operations.
Speaking of emergency response training, you may use this opportunity to meet other regulatory requirements, such as:
- The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).
- The OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations Standard or HAZWOPER (29 CFR 1910.120).
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the US DOT requires safety and emergency response training for HazMat Employees [49 CFR 172.704(a)(3)].
However, please note that these are the distinct training requirements of different agencies. While it may be possible to combine them into one session, the responsibility to ensure all of the individual regulations are met is yours alone.
Some other useful information about RCRA facility personnel training:
- An annual review of the initial training is required. Read a US EPA interpretation letter for a more nuanced understanding of this requirement (RO 14286).
- It may be classroom instruction or on-the-job training.
- No duration for the training is set; it must take as long as necessary to convey the applicable information.
- The training program must be directed by a person who has received training per the requirements of 40 CFR 265.16.
- The requirement to properly document the training should be read carefully as it is very specific [40 CFR 265.16(d)].
- Employees must be trained within 6 months of employment or new job assignment.
If you are an LQG, annual RCRA training is required for your facility personnel. As noted just above, the person responsible for directing the training program must receive annual training as well. Anyone who prepares a hazardous waste for off-site shipment or signs a manifest must also have the triennial HazMat Employee training required by PHMSA at 49 CFR 172, Subpart H. My training – either open enrollment, or on-site – fulfills both of these training requirements in one day. I travel all over the country all year round, so check out my schedule to find a date and location convenient to you. Or, contact me to schedule on-site training where I can train all of your HazMat Employees and facility personnel for one flat fee.