Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response
Awareness Training

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Introduction

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Welcome to the USDA APHIS Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Awareness Course.

In the daily course of your work, you may be accidentally exposed to biological or chemical hazards. This course is intended to provide you with the basic knowledge needed to respond to and report a hazardous materials incident effectively and safely.

Knowledge Reviews are located throughout the module. They aren't graded, but enable you to measure your comprehension of the lesson material.

Approximate length: 45 minutes.

Welcome to the USDA APHIS Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Awareness Course.

In the daily course of your work, you may be accidentally exposed to biological or chemical hazards. This course is intended to provide you with the basic knowledge needed to respond to and report a hazardous materials incident effectively and safely.


Montage of lab work, pesticide use, and technician performing a test.



Objectives

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The objectives of this course are to:

The course objectives are listed here.






Why is this training important?

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Proper controls for hazardous wastes should be in place and maintained to prevent releases. Occasionally, the controls fail and workers or the public can be exposed if proper action isn't taken. When releases do occur, limiting human exposure and minimizing the impact on the environment are crucial.

Also, because of terrorism concerns, we must be prepared to respond not only to unintentional releases, but to intentional releases as well.

Occasionally, the controls in place for hazardous wastes fail and releases occur. When this happens, limiting human exposure and minimizing the impact on the environment are crucial.

Also, because of terrorism concerns, we must be prepared to respond not only to unintentional releases, but to intentional releases as well.


Hazardous waste cleanup.



First Responder Responsibilities

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First responders at the awareness level are personnel who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous materials emergency or, in the course of their normal duties, may be the first persons on the scene of an emergency involving hazardous materials.

First responders at the awareness level are expected to recognize that hazardous materials are present, protect themselves, call for trained personnel, and secure the area. The most important duty of these personnel is to make proper notification to begin the emergency response sequence. The first responders' role at this level should involve no potential for their exposure to the hazards related to an incident.

First responders at the awareness level are personnel who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous materials emergency or, in the course of their normal duties, may be the first persons on the scene of an emergency involving hazardous materials. Their role at this level should involve no potential for their exposure to the hazards related to an incident.


Old drums containing hazardous wastes.



Training Requirements

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Individuals who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release, and will initiate an emergency response sequence by notifying the proper authorities of the release, must be trained to the first responder awareness level.

Supervisors and safety officers will ensure that employees who may discover an emergency release, and whose duties are limited to initiating an emergency response sequence, receive first responder awareness level training, at a minimum.

There is no minimum number of hours for this training, but employees must have sufficient training or have had sufficient experience to objectively demonstrate competency in the First Responder Training Requirements listed in 29 CFR 1910.120(q), which is available in the References section.

Individuals who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release, and will initiate an emergency response sequence by notifying the proper authorities of the release, must be trained to the first responder awareness level.

Supervisors and safety officers will ensure that employees who may discover an emergency release, and whose duties are limited to initiating an emergency response sequence, receive first responder awareness level training, at a minimum.


Students learning about hazardous waste response.



What is hazardous waste?

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A hazardous waste has properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, contained gases, or sludges. They can be the by-products of manufacturing processes or simply discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides.

Generally, hazardous wastes have one or more of the following properties:

Roll over the graphic to the right to read more about these properties.

A hazardous waste has properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, contained gases, or sludges. Generally, hazardous wastes have one or more of the following properties: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.


Hazardous materials placards.

Hazardous materials placards with the following text:

Ignitability - Ignitable wastes can create fires under certain conditions, undergo spontaneous combustion, or have a flash point less than 60C (140F). Examples include waste oil and used solvents.

Corrosivity - Corrosive wastes are materials, including solids, that are acids or bases, or that produce acidic or alkaline solutions. A liquid waste may also be corrosive if it is able to corrode metal containers, such as storage tanks, drums, and barrels. An example is spent battery acid.

Reactivity - Reactive wastes are unstable under normal conditions. They can cause explosions or release toxic fumes, gases, or vapors when heated, compressed, or mixed with water. Examples include lithium-sulfur batteries and unused explosives.

Toxicity - Toxic wastes are harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed. When toxic wastes are disposed, the toxic constituents may leach from the waste and pollute ground water.




Biological Hazards

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A biological hazard, or biohazard, is an organism or substance derived from an organism that poses a threat to human, animal, or plant health. This can include medical waste, laboratory samples, and organisms found in nature, such as fungi, bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

Biological agents can be dispersed in many ways. Delivery methods include:

There are four levels of biosafety risk, with Level 1 being the lowest and Level 4 the highest.

Select here to see some examples of pathogens and their related biosafety levels.

A biological hazard, or biohazard, is an organism or substance derived from an organism that poses a threat to human, animal, or plant health. This can include medical waste, laboratory samples, and organisms found in nature, such as fungi, bacteria, parasites, or viruses.


Biohazard symbol.



Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents

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BSL Risks Examples
1 Pose a low risk to humans and the environment E. coli
Varicella
2 Associated with human disease; hazards are percutaneous injury, ingestion, mucous membrane exposure Avian influenza (highly pathogenic)
Hepatitis A, B, and C
HIV
Influenza A
Lyme disease
Measles
Mumps
Salmonella
Scrapie
3 Indigenous or exotic agents with potential for aerosol transmission; disease may have serious or lethal consequences Anthrax
Avian influenza (highly pathogenic) (if being manipulated in a laboratory setting)
Rift Valley fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
SARS
Smallpox
Tuberculosis
Typhus
Venezuelan equine encephalitis
West Nile virus
Yellow fever
4 Dangerous/exotic agents which pose high risk of life-threatening disease, aerosol-transmitted lab infections, or related agents with unknown risk of transmission Argentine hemorrhagic fever
Bolivian hemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
Dengue fever
Ebola virus
Hantaviruses
Lassa fever
Marburg virus

Note: Infectious agents may be listed under different BSLs depending on a variety of factors; for example, in this table, Avian influenza is listed under BSL-2 and BSL-3. See Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories for more detailed information.






Radiological Hazards

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The basic hazard associated with radioactive material is the emission of ionizing radiation, which can be an Internal Hazard or External Hazard hazard. As radioactive material decays, ionizing radiation is emitted. The four types of ionizing radiation are:

Individuals may be protected from external radiation, or at least have their radiation dose minimized, by three methods:

The basic hazard associated with radioactive material is the emission of ionizing radiation, which can be an internal or external hazard. As radioactive material decays, ionizing radiation is emitted. The four types of ionizing radiation are alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron.


Radiological symbol.



Clandestine Labs

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A clandestine laboratory is any laboratory that manufactures illegal drugs or substances. These labs have been found in houses, motel rooms, campgrounds, storage buildings, and motor vehicles. They are frequently found in remote areas because the odors that emanate from these labs reveal their operation. These labs are not a new hazard to the response community, but their numbers are growing rapidly.

Many of the hazards associated with these labs are due to the ingredients used in making drugs; some are pure chemicals but many come from over-the-counter products such as cold medicines, dietary supplements, and drain cleaners. When these products are released they can harm responders through inhalation or skin contact.

One of the most common drugs manufactured in clandestine labs is methamphetamine (meth). Chemicals used in its manufacture include toluene, methanol, ethyl ether, anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, ephedrine, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, iodine crystals, red phosphorous, and lithium, many of which are corrosive, flammable, or toxic. First responder actions at an incident involving a clandestine lab are the same as described previously.

A clandestine laboratory is any laboratory that manufactures illegal drugs or substances. Many of the hazards associated with these labs are due to the ingredients used in making drugs, which may be corrosive, flammable, or toxic.


Meth lab.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

Which of these actions should not be performed by a first responder at the awareness level?


Recognize that hazardous materials are present
Call for trained personnel
Contain the hazard
Secure the area

Question mark.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

Which property is used to describe wastes that are unstable under normal conditions?


Reactive
Ignitable
Toxic
Corrosive

Question mark.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

Biological hazards pose threats to:


Humans
Animals
Plants
All of the above

Question mark.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

Which type of ionizing radiation has the least penetrating power?


Alpha
Beta
Gamma
Neutron

Question mark.



General Site Hazards

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All emergency responders require training on the following hazards:

If you need training or have questions about these topics, contact your supervisor or safety officer.

All emergency responders require training on hazards such as fires and explosions, confined spaces, motor vehicles, powered equipment, electrical, and walking-working surfaces. If you need training or have questions about these topics, contact your supervisor or safety officer.


Boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE).



Potential Outcomes of Hazardous Substance Releases

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Impact on Health: Hazardous substances may cause illness or death by entering the body through any of several routes, and the nature and onset of signs and symptoms may vary accordingly. Gases, vapors, and aerosols, when inhaled, may be absorbed through any part of the respiratory tract. The eye may also directly absorb them. Droplets of liquid and, less commonly, solid particles may be absorbed through the surface of the skin and mucous membranes. The methods of entry are:

Impact on the Environment: Contaminants may enter air, groundwater, surface water, or soil and move along with the general flow of that medium. They also behave differently depending on their physical state. A solid may stick to surfaces, scatter, or form a dust cloud; a liquid may seep into the ground, flow along the ground, or vaporize and become a gas; a gas will expand and be carried by the wind.

Toxic substances can build up in the food chain. Organisms can absorb contaminants, which are later released into another organism that eats that animal or plant.

Hazardous substances may cause illness or death by entering the body through any of several routes, including the respiratory tract, eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. They can also contaminate air, groundwater, surface water, or soil and build up in the food chain.


Drums containing hazardous waste.



Recognizing the Presence of Hazardous Substances

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Location or type of work site: Where the work site is located or the type of work being done should tell you something about the kind of substances that may be present. For example, if you're at a farm, there may be pesticides in the vicinity.

Container size and shape: Does the container have convex/ rounded ends, is it made of plastic, or is it cylindrical with a valve? These are clues about the nature of the substance inside.

Markings, colors, and labels: Look for words such as DANGER, POISONOUS, WARNING, and CAUTION, or the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) "hazard diamond" depicted to the right:

Unusual occurrences: Is there fire and smoke, irritation of the skin and eyes, a hissing sound, or a chemical odor?

[[warn]] If you're close enough to notice any of these, you may be in danger and should leave the area immediately, preferably upwind.

Location or type of work site; container size and shape; markings, colors, and labels; and unusual occurrences may indicate the presence of hazardous substances.


NFPA 'hazard diamond.'



Identifying Hazardous Substances

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The federal government has established a system of labeling hazardous materials to help identify the type of material and the threat posed. The following are some of the major colors and symbols of the different hazard classes:

Hazard Class Color Symbol
Explosives Orange Starburst
Corrosives White/Black Test Tube
Flammable Gases/Liquids Red Flame
Poisons White Skull/Crossbones
Radioactives Yellow/White Trefoil
Infectious Substances White Biohazard
Oxidizers Yellow Flaming Ball
Dangerous When Wet Blue Flame
Flammable Solids Red/White Stripes Flame

These labels are used primarily when transporting hazardous substances, so individual containers may be labeled differently. Labeling could take any form, or there may be no labels at all, so the clues described previously may be the only indicators that a hazardous substance is present.

The federal government has established a system of labeling hazardous materials to help identify the type of material and the threat posed. Some of the major colors and symbols of the different hazard classes are described here.


Series of Department of Transportation hazardous materials placards: reactive, corrosive, flammable, toxic, radioactive, infectious, oxidizer, dangerous when wet, and flammable solid.



Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)

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The Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) was developed jointly by the governments of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico for use by first responders at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material.

The ERG is primarily a guide to aid first responders in quickly identifying the specific or generic classification of the material(s) involved in the incident, and protecting themselves and the general public during the initial response phase.

The guidebook is divided into four main sections; roll over the buttons on the image to read more. Roll off the image or select the X in the upper right corner to return to the cover page.

There is a link to the ERG in the References section.

The Emergency Response Guidebook was developed for use by first responders at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material. It is primarily a guide to aid first responders in quickly identifying the specific or generic classification of the material(s) involved in the incident, and protecting themselves and the general public during the initial response phase.


2004 Emergency Response Guidebook.

Front cover of the 2004 Emergency Response Guidebook with buttons labeled 'Yellow Pages,' 'Blue Pages,' 'Orange Pages,' and 'Green Pages' linked to the following text boxes:




Who and When to Call for Additional Resources

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If lives are at risk, call 911. Be prepared to provide the following information:

If the incident is not life threatening, or emergency responders have already arrived, notify the following:

Immediate Supervisor Regional Safety Office
Program Safety and Health Program Director
State Program Director APHIS Safety Office
Regional Director

If lives are at risk, call 911. Be prepared to provide the information outlined here. If the incident is not life threatening, or emergency responders have already arrived, contact your immediate supervisor and others listed here, as directed by your unit's emergency plan.


HAZMAT team inspecting drums.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

Eating or drinking a contaminated material describes which method of entry?


Absorption
Injection
Ingestion
Inhalation

Question mark.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

On the hazard diamond, blue represents which type of hazard?


Special hazard
Flammability
Instability
Health hazard

Question mark.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

Which section of the Emergency Response Guide contains all safety recommendations?


Green-bordered pages
Orange-bordered pages
Yellow-bordered pages
Blue-bordered pages

Question mark.



Knowledge Review

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The following Knowledge Review is a multiple choice question. Only one answer is correct; select the best answer and feedback will immediately appear.

If you witness a hazardous waste release, and lives are in danger, who should you notify first?


Local emergency responders/911
Immediate Supervisor
Regional Safety Office
APHIS Safety Office

Question mark.



Summary

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In this course, you learned:

Here are some of the topics you learned in this course.