Workplace Safety

Do Your People Know the Five Levels of HAZWOPER Emergency Response?

Here is a brief recap of each of the levels:

  1. First Responder Awareness Level is the level of training for individuals who might witness or discover a hazardous material or hazardous waste spill or release.
  2. First Responder Operations Level (8 hours of training required) is for personnel who respond to chemical spills or releases in a defensive manner, such as containing the spill and/or protecting people and the environment from further exposure.
  3. Hazardous Materials Technicians (24 hours of training) are trained to respond to a spill in an offensive manner and take steps to stop the chemical release and clean it up.
  4. Hazardous Materials Specialists (24 hours of training) have the same training as the technicians and have specific knowledge of certain chemicals, so they can provide technical support to the technicians.
  5. Incident Commanders (24 hours of training) are trained to assume control of the entire emergency situation.

Meet your OSHA-required 8-, 24-, or 40-hour HAZWOPER training requirements with 17 audio training sessions on one DVD plus a comprehensive training manual. To get your HAZWOPER Training Library, click here.


Naturally, individuals at each of these levels have an important job to do. Here is some further information about the responsibilities of someone at the first level of emergency response training.

Personnel at the Awareness Level have an important, however limited, role in an emergency response. These individuals will generally not be trained to be involved in the containment, control, or cleanup of the hazardous substance release. The role at this level includes:

  • Defensive actions only;
  • Recognizing that a chemical substance has been released or is releasing;
  • Determining the chemical’s identity (only if safe to do so);
  • Protecting yourself and others by evacuating the area;
  • Calling for assistance, from either an internal spill response team or an external agency such as the fire department; and
  • Securing the area to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering the area near the chemical release.

The above information comes from BLR’s presentation “HAZWOPER: First Responders, Awareness Level.”


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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll look at the first steps employees need to take after chemical spills—plus we will examine a comprehensive HAZWOPER training library available now.