About the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Program

Funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) program offers hazardous waste and hazmat training for hazmat site workers in the public and private sector. Instruction and materials are provided in both English and Spanish. Courses have been approved by the California Department of Public Health for continuing education certification.

Our training and educational materials inform workers about injuries and health hazards related to lead, asbestos, repetitive motion injuries, exposure to chemicals, lifting, and noise. Training sessions also focus on legal rights and protections for laborers working in high-risk industries who face disproportionate exposure to health and safety hazards.

Programs and Services

LOSH, together with its partnering agencies in the Western Region Universities Consortium (WRUC), offers a full range of (HAZWOPER) courses. Examples include hazardous waste cleanup and investigation, supervisor and refresher courses; treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facility and refresher courses; first responder awareness operations, HazMat Technician, Incident Commander and refresher courses; Department of Transportation (DOT) and refresher courses; confined space courses; and hazard awareness courses. WRUC also provides train-the-trainer courses for workers and for NIEHS trainers from other programs and participates in organizing national trainers’ exchanges. Many courses can be provided in English or Spanish.

Courses include:

  • Training and certification for hazardous waste site workers in the private and public sector;
  • Emergency response training for hazardous materials first response personnel and industry response teams;
  • Annual 8-hour refresher training for all previously enrolled students and trainers;
  • Health and safety training related to chemical hazards, bloodborne pathogens, and heat illness;
  • Fact sheets illustrating injury and illness prevention; and
  • Summaries of state and federal worker rights and protections.


Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers
5480 Ferguson Drive
Commerce, CA 90022
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HAZWOPER focuses on providing health and safety resources for managers and employees so they can recognize and evaluate workplace hazards in order to prevent injury and illness on the job. Resources shown below include FACE Factsheets, articles, and regulations.

Fact Sheets

The following fact sheets provide concise and clearly illustrated instructions regarding:

  • Workplace health and safety hazards
  • What you can do to prevent injury and illness on the job
UCLA-LOSH Health and Safety Fact Sheets

The Labor Occupational Safety & Health program at UCLA provides several dozen fact sheets on workplace rights, safety, and chemical health risks.

Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Fact Sheets

The California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (CA/FACE) program provides one-page fatality incident summaries with prevention recommendations for workers in high risk jobs or occupations. On average, approximately one worker dies every three days in LA County.

Right to Know: Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets

Under the New Jersey Worker and Community Right To Know Act, the State of New Jersey was required to develop the Right to Know Hazardous Substance List (RTKHSL). The revised list contains 2,455 hazardous substances. 1,407 of these substances are included on the Special Health Hazard Substance List (SHHSL), which are considered to be special health hazards and are defined as carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, corrosives, flammables, and reactive materials.

Visit the following links for some of the latest news in occupational health and safety from external sources:

Hazardous Waste


Documenting Hazardous Exposures


The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication


Penetration vs. Permeation


Respiratory Lessons


Bad Assumptions about Hearing Protection


NRRs for Hearing Protectors: A Change is Coming



General Duty Clause: Every employer shall furnish employment and a place of employment which are safe and healthful for the employees. 29 CFR 5 (a) (1) Occupational Safety and Health Act.

In the HAZWOPER trainings, we strive to inform workers of their basic employment rights. These basic rights are described below and in more detail on the California Department of Industrial Relations website.

Hazard Communication Standard (GISO* 5194)
Your employer must ensure that:
1) chemicals are properly labeled
2) Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are provided
3) you receive training about the chemicals you work with, the health problems they can cause and how you can protect yourself.

Access to Medical and Exposure Records Standard (GISO* 3204)
The standard (GISO 3204) gives you the right to examine and copy your medical records and records of exposure to toxic substances or harmful physical agents. It also gives you the right to examine records of exposure to toxic substances or harmful physical agents of other employees with work conditions similar to yours. You also must be provided Material Safety Data Sheets or other information that exists for chemicals or substances used in the workplace, or to which employees may be exposed.

OSHA Log of Injuries and Illnesses (Division of Labor Statistics and Research, Section 14300)
Most employers with 10 or more employees must keep a record of injuries and illnesses for five years. The summary for the year before must be posted every February through April. Employers must provide this information to workers and union representatives.

California – Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) (GISO* 3203)
Employers must have a health and safety program and a person to respond to complaints that workers have about unsafe conditions.

*GISO stands for “General Industry Safety Order” based on the California Code of Regulations

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard requires health and safety training for workers managing hazardous materials or are involved in an emergency response to a hazardous waste or hazardous materials release such as: leaks, spills, accidents, or fires.

Respiratory Protection (GISO* 5144)
Respiratory protective equipment must be worn when it is not possible to remove harmful particulates (dust, mist, fumes, etc), vapors, or gases from the air or when emergency protection against relatively brief exposure is needed.

Airborne Contaminants (GISO* 5155)
This standard lists legal limits for the amount of chemicals that may be present in the air at work. It lists the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and Ceiling Limits for approximately 700 chemicals.
Specific Chemicals: There are also detailed regulations for certain chemicals such as lead, asbestos, benzene, etc.

Personal Protective Devices (GISO* 3380-3385)
You have the right to protection such as gloves, goggles, safety shoes, hard hat, ear protection, and training in how to use them.

Outdoor Heat Illness Prevention (GISO* 3395)
When employees work in hot conditions, employers must take special precautions in order to prevent heat illness. Heat illness can progress to heat stroke and be fatal, especially when emergency treatment is delayed. Employers of outdoor workers must comply with the permanent heat illness prevention standard. This standard requires employers to take four simple steps that include shade, water, training and written procedures.

Confined Space (GISO* 5157)
This standard applies to workers who enter and work within a confined space in which air contaminants are present and/or there is not enough oxygen (<19.5% O2). http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5157.html

*GISO stands for “General Industry Safety Order” based on the California Code of Regulations

Work Environment

Ergonomics (GISO* 5110)
In a workplace where 2 people doing similar work have an injury caused by repetitive motion at work, the employer must train people and analyze the job in order to prevent injuries.

Sanitation (GISO* 3362)
To the extent that the nature of the work allows, employers shall keep workplaces, storerooms, personal service rooms and passageways clean, orderly and in a sanitary condition.

Clean Areas, Bathroom (GISO* 3364-3366)
Employers shall keep toilet facilities clean, in good working order and accessible to the employees at all times. Washing facilities for maintaining personal cleanliness shall be provided in every place of employment.

Maintenance of Exits (GISO* 3219)
Every required exit shall be kept free of all obstructions or impediments so workers can escape easily and immediately in case of fire or other emergency.

Access, Work Space, Work Areas, Slips and Falls Article 4 (GISO* 3270-3273)
Employers shall provide access to all equipment and appliances. Permanent aisles, ladders, stairways, and walkways shall be kept reasonably clear and in good repair. Permanent floors and platforms shall be free of dangerous projections or obstructions, maintained in good repair, and reasonably free of oil, grease, or water. Whenever aisles, walkways, or crawlways become slippery, high friction surfaces, cleats, coverings, or other equivalent protection against slipping will be required.

Preventing Burns

Hot Pipes and Hot Surfaces (GISO* 3308)
Where possible, employers must insulate or guard pipes or other exposed surfaces which can burn workers.

Machine/Equipment Safety

Lockout/Tagout (GISO* 3314)
Your employer must have a lock to shut down a machine during maintenance (when someone is working on it) to prevent anyone else from turning it on.

Machine Guarding (GISO* 3940-4188 & 4189-4647)
Machines that grind, shear, punch, press, squeeze, draw cut, roll, and mix or have similar action and in which an employee comes within the danger zone shall have a guard at the point of operation.

Forklifts (GISO* 3664)
Only drivers authorized and trained by the employer shall operate a forklift.

*GISO stands for “General Industry Safety Order” based on the California Code of Regulations