Environmental Remediation, Health, and Safety Training

The environmental field represents a variety of occupations. The Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), a partner of HMTRI, is a national Center of Excellence funded by the National Science Foundation. ATEEC’s mission is the advancement of environmental and energy technology education through curriculum, professional, and program development.

In 2014, ATEEC published a report, Defining Environmental Technology, which identified thirteen occupational categories and corresponding tasks in the environmental technology field. These occupational categories include:

  1. Air Quality
  2. Emergency Preparedness and Response
  3. Energy Technologies and Services
  4. Environmental Information Collection and Analysis
  5. Environmental Laboratory Services
  6. Environmental Site Management
  7. Natural Resources Management
  8. Safety and Health
  9. Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
  10. Sustainability
  11. Wastewater Management
  12. Water Supply and Treatment
  13. Watershed Management

All of these occupational categories can relate to potential jobs associated with the EPA Brownfields Economic Initiative. However, it should be noted that Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) cooperative agreements will only fund limited categories as noted in the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued each year.

CROSS-CUTTING KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS

The Defining Environmental Technology report also identified twenty areas of knowledge and skills that were identified as cutting across many of the technician jobs listed above.

  1. Business fundamentals (economics/finance/entrepreneurship)
  2. Communication
  3. Computer hardware and software
  4. Data management/documentation
  5. Education and outreach
  6. Emergency management principles
  7. Environmental information management systems
  8. Geospatial technology
  9. Health and safety
  10. Instrumentation and technology
  11. Logistics
  12. Permitting/compliance
  13. Pollution prevention/waste minimization
  14. Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC)
  15. Sampling and monitoring
  16. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  17. Sustainability
  18. Teamwork
  19. Troubleshooting/problem solving/critical thinking/research
  20. Workplace ethics

IDENTIFYING ENTRY-LEVEL TASKS THROUGH THE DACUM PROCESS

DACUM, an acronym for Developing A CurriculUM, is a process that analyzes an occupation systematically. The DACUM workshop is a quick, effective, relatively low-cost method of occupational (or task) analysis. The goal of the occupational analysis is to develop competency- and performance-based, learner-centered curriculum and instructional materials. Led by a trained facilitator, expert practitioners in an occupation in business and industry come together to provide input on the specific tasks, knowledge, and skills required to perform a job. During the workshop, the expert workers develop a DACUM chart as a graphical representation of their input.

ATEEC has conducted DACUM workshops and developed charts for the following environmental technology occupations:

  • Agriculture Technician, Precision
  • Emergency Preparedness Management
  • Energy Technician, Residential
  • Energy Auditor, Residential
  • Environmental Compliance and Technology Technician
  • Hazardous Materials Technical Coordinator
  • Natural Resource Technician
  • Pollution Prevention Specialist
  • Pulp and Paper Maintenance Technician
  • Pulp and Paper Operator
  • Safety and Health Coordinator
  • Solid Waste Technician
  • Spill Response/Environmental Cleanup Technician
  • Sustainable Practices Professional
  • Waste Management Specialist
  • Wastewater Plant Operator
  • Water Treatment Technician

These DACUM charts are available on ATEEC’s website.

CRITICAL COMPONENTS OF SUCCESSFUL JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS

HMTRI conducted a forum in 1998 with the first 11 EPA-funded Brownfields Job Development and Training Pilot grantees. The objective of the forum was to identify the most critical components of successful job training programs, and best practices for sustainable employment in each component. These practices were captured in chart form and included in the Best Practices for Job Training Programs in Brownfields Redevelopment Initiatives report.

The pilot grantees identified the following as the ten most critical components of successful job training programs.

  1. Labor market assessment—Matching training with labor needs
  2. Community involvement and partnerships
  3. Recruitment
  4. Assessment of participants
  5. Basic skills and remedial education
  6. Technical skills
  7. Employability skills
  8. Placement
  9. Tracking
  10. Continuing education

BEST PRACTICES IN TECHNICAL SKILLS

In the Best Practices for Job Training Programs in Brownfields Redevelopment Initiatives report mentioned above, the pilot grantees identified the following best practices for technical skills (#6 in the ten most critical components listed above). Although dated, these technical skills still apply to EWDJT programs today.

  • Provide awareness of and reasons for health and safety issues.
  • Conduct participatory, hands-on training.
  • Demonstrate proper use of personal protection equipment.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills (technical writing, oral presentations, and reading).
  • Provide a general knowledge of environmental regulations.
  • Provide overview of Superfund and Brownfields.
  • Provide hazard awareness training.
  • Incorporate information on innovative remediation technologies.
  • Provide fundamental geology course.
  • Incorporate team-building skills.
  • Provide an internship/co-op experience.
  • Utilize team leaders/advisors to support participants throughout technical training.
  • Award certificate after training is completed.
  • Determine the top three or four environmental problems in order to determine training needs.
  • Develop and integrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills into activities and exercises.
  • Cross-train participants (e.g. lead, asbestos, radon).
  • Continuously evaluate “pollutant of the year.”
  • Incorporate representatives from state organizations in training development.
  • Provide skills needed for research and attention to details.

SAFETY AND HEALTH IN THE CLASSROOM AND AT THE WORK SITE

It is essential that EWDJT programs train and enforce safety and health standards, both in the classroom and as part of the training curriculum. Several of the environmental, health, and safety courses commonly offered in EWDJT programs require that students have a medical waiver or physical examination. Note that HAZWOPER and some other courses require program participants to sign a Participant Liability Waiver and Release of all Claims form. This is especially true if a self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) will be used during the training. The Participant Liability Waiver and Release of all Claims form from Eastern Iowa Community College District provides a sample waiver that can be used for these types of environmental, health, and safety courses.

EWDJT programs must ensure that appropriate safety and health procedures are being following during training in both the classroom and on a work site. This is true whether the training is being conducted by program staff or a contracted trainer. Many programs provide a list of safety and health rules for students, and students are asked to sign and date this document stating that they agree to comply with all of the rules.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides a Safety Checklist Programs for Schools. The Safety Checklist provides information needed by schools and training organizations to maintain safe classrooms, shops, and labs for teachers and students in career-technical education. This information can also be used by colleges and universities with occupational safety and health programs.

SAFETY AND HEALTH HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION

Brownfields Health and Safety for Sites Evaluated and Remediated under Federal Brownfields Initiatives or State Voluntary Cleanup Programs, published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), provides answers and additional information on the following questions:

  1. What is a “Brownfields site?”
    1. Definition
    2. Types of sites included and excluded from coverage
    3. Characteristics
  2. Who determines that a Brownfields site needs to be cleaned up?
  3. Who pays for assessment and cleanup of a Brownfields site? Is there a potentially responsible party?
  4. What are the hazards at Brownfields sites?
    1. Types of contaminants
    2. Levels of contaminants
  5. What cleanup methods are used on Brownfields sites?
    1. Includes link to available cleanup choices in The Road Map to Understanding Innovative Technology Options for Brownfields Investigation and Cleanup, Fourth Edition.
  6. What safety and health hazards are associated with Brownfields site assessment activities and what OSHA standards apply?
    1. Includes list of hazards that might be associated with site assessment activities and the federal OSHA standards that address those hazards.
  7. What safety and health hazards are associated with Brownfields cleanup activities and what federal OSHA standards apply?
    1. Includes list of hazards that might be associated with Brownfields cleanup operations and the federal OSHA standards that address those hazards.
  8. Is a Brownfields site a hazardous waste site? Does OSHA’s HAZWOPER standard (29 CFR 1910.120 or 1926.65) apply to work done at Brownfields sites?
  9. How does HAZWOPER compliance at a Brownfields site differ from compliance at a Superfund site?
  10. Our loan/contract/cooperative agreement requires a site-specific health and safety plan (HASP) consistent with 1910.120 prior to starting field work. What is this plan and what must it contain?
  11. Who prepares a site HASP and who is covered by it? Can a HASP prepared by site contractors cover oversight personnel or other workers on site only occasionally?
  12. The state requires a site-specific HASP and compliance with 1910 to participate in the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). What does this mean?
  13. What is the difference between the site-specific HASP and the health and safety program required by HAZWOPER?
  14. Are resources available to assist me in developing a HASP and a health and safety program?
    1. Includes link to many possible solutions.
  15. Who is responsible for safety and health oversight at a Brownfields site?
  16. What HAZWOPER training or other safety and health training do Brownfields site workers and supervisors need?
  17. Where can this training be obtained?
  18. Who enforces safety and health requirements at a Brownfields site?
  19. What is OSHA’s role at a Brownfields site?
  20. What is the EPA’s role in safety and health at a Brownfields site?
  21. What is the state’s role in safety and health at a Brownfields site?
  22. Do these agencies have compliance assistance resources?
  23. Do all responses to hazardous substance releases on a Brownfields site require emergency responses?
  24. How do Brownfields site emergency responders need to be trained and prepared?

Many more resources are available from OSHA on their Brownfields website including:

  • OSHA standards
  • Hazard recognition
  • Exposure evaluation
  • Possible solutions
  • Additional information

ENVIRONMENTAL WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND JOB TRAINING (EWDJT) CURRICULA

There is no one specific curricula for EWDJT programs. Specific curriculum should be determined after conducting a local labor market assessment and should include input from the program’s advisory board and limitations set in the RFP. Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training is required to be provided to all individuals being trained. Other examples of training offered by some EWDJT grantees include:

  • Site remediation, assessment, inventory, and analysis
  • Asbestos abatement
  • Lead abatement
  • Lead renovation, repair, and painting (RRP)
  • Mold remediation
  • Meth lab cleanup
  • Underground storage tank removal
  • Confined space
  • First aid, CPR, bloodborne pathogens
  • HazMat
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Forklift
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
  • Building trades related to constructing beams, caps, synthetic barriers, pumping facilities, and similar structures to remediate contamination
  • Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD)
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)

OSHA certificates and other credentialed training such as EPA’s Renovation, Repair, & Painting (RR & P), lead, and asbestos training are regulated and as such, may require certified instructors and/or approved curriculum. It is important that program administrators understand and verify that training is administered in accordance with federal and state requirements.

ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY AND HEALTH COURSES

Each EWDJT program offers its own unique set of courses based on the labor market needs in its community, particularly the assessment and cleanup needs of the local Brownfields site(s). However, since all EWDJT programs must ensure workers are protected while on the job, several course offerings may be similar across programs. The following courses are commonly offered.

HAZARDOUS WASTE OPERATIONS AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE (HAZWOPER) TRAINING

OSHA regulations under 29 CFR 1910.120 requires 40 hours of safety training for hazardous waste site workers and supervisors involved in activities that expose or potentially expose them to hazardous substances and health hazards above permissible levels. Therefore, all EWDJT programs are required to provide OSHA’s 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training to their students.

The HAZWOPER standard applies to five groups of employers and their employees. This includes any employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances including hazardous waste, and who are engaged in one of the following operations as specified by 1910.120(a)(1)(i-v) and 1926.65(a)(1)(i-v):

  • Cleanup operations required by a governmental body, whether federal, state, local, or other, involving hazardous substances that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Corrective actions involving cleanup operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended.
  • Voluntary cleanup operations at sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental bodies as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 CFR Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with the U.S. EPA to implement RCRA regulations.
  • Emergency response operations for releases or substantial threats of releases of hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.

Supervisors and workers must be trained to:

  • Recognize hazards and to prevent them.
  • Select, care for, and use respirators properly as well as other types of personal protective equipment.
  • Understand engineering controls and their use.
  • Use proper decontamination procedures.
  • Understand the emergency response plan, medical surveillance requirements, confined space entry procedures, spill containment program, and any appropriate work practices.

ANNUAL HAZWOPER REFRESHER TRAINING

Each site worker and supervisor must receive eight hours of refresher training annually to review critical health and safety requirements and procedures, and introduce new or revised requirements and procedures. The refresher training, discussed in HAZWOPER paragraph (e)(8), must be geared toward a worker’s or supervisor’s site responsibilities.

Visit the websites below for more information.

OSHA 10- AND 30-HOUR GENERAL INDUSTRY OUTREACH TRAINING

OSHA’s Outreach Training Program provides basic safety and health information and education. It does not fulfill an employer’s requirement to provide training under specific OSHA standards. The OSHA Outreach Training Program for General Industry provides training for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces in general industry. The program also provides information regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.

It is important to note that this is a voluntary program and does not meet the training requirements for any OSHA standards. Although some states, municipalities, or others may require outreach training as a condition of employment, it is not an OSHA requirement. None of the courses within the Outreach Training Program are considered a certification.

These classes must be delivered by OSHA-authorized trainers. The 10-hour class is intended for entry level workers, while the 30-hour class is more appropriate for supervisors or workers with some safety responsibility. Through this training, OSHA helps to ensure that workers are more knowledgeable about workplace hazards and their rights, and contribute to our nation’s productivity.

OSHA 10- AND 30-HOUR CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY OUTREACH TRAINING

OSHA’s Outreach Training Program provides basic safety and health information and education. It does not fulfill an employer’s requirement to provide training under specific OSHA standards. The OSHA Outreach Training Program for the Construction Industry provides training for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces in the construction industry. The program also provides information regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.

It is important to note that this is a voluntary program and does not meet the training requirements for any OSHA standards. Although some states, municipalities, or others may require outreach training as a condition of employment, it is not an OSHA requirement. None of the courses within the Outreach Training Program are considered a certification.

These classes must be delivered by OSHA-authorized trainers. The 10-hour class is intended for entry level workers, while the 30-hour class is more appropriate for supervisors or workers with some safety responsibility. Through this training, OSHA helps to ensure that workers are more knowledgeable about workplace hazards and their rights, and contribute to our nation’s productivity.

OSHA HAZARD COMMUNICATION STANDARD

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to HCS provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. This update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.

CONFINED SPACE AWARENESS, ENTRY, AND RESCUE TRAINING

Many workplaces contain areas that are considered confined spaces because, while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
  • Contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant;
  • Has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or
  • Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

RESPIRATORY PROTECTION TRAINING

An estimated five million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.

Respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) which include their own air supply.

DOT REQUIRED HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRAINING

OSHA provides information about preventing occupational illness and injury in the trucking industry through links to summaries, training presentations, publications, and other resources. It also offers a one-stop location to find applicable Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance requirements related to worker protection.

OSHA regulations govern the safety and health of the workers and the responsibilities of employers to ensure their safety at the warehouse, dock, construction site, and in other places truckers go to deliver and pick up loads throughout the country. The trucking industry is addressed in specific standards for recordkeeping and the general industry.

ASBESTOS AWARENESS AND ABATEMENT TRAINING

Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself; and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years.

Worker exposure to asbestos hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for the construction industry, general industry, and shipyard employment sectors. These standards reduce the risk to workers by requiring that employers provide personal exposure monitoring to assess the risk and hazard awareness training for operations where there is any potential exposure to asbestos. Airborne levels of asbestos are never to exceed legal worker exposure limits.

LEAD-BASED PAINT AWARENESS, SAMPLING, AND ABATEMENT TRAINING

OSHA estimates that approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead. Workers are exposed to lead as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal of lead material and products. Lead exposure occurs in most industry sectors including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, remediation, and recreation.

Construction workers are exposed to lead during the removal, renovation, or demolition of structures painted with lead pigments. Workers may also be exposed during installation, maintenance, or demolition of lead pipes and fittings, lead linings in tanks and radiation protection, leaded glass, work involving soldering, and other work involving lead metal or lead alloys. In general industry, workers come in contact with lead in solder, plumbing fixtures, rechargeable batteries, lead bullets, leaded glass, brass, or bronze objects, and radiators. Lead exposure can occur not only in the production of these kinds of objects but also in their use.

In the general population, lead may be present in small but hazardous concentrations in food, water, and air. Lead poisoning from deteriorating old paint is the primary source of elevated blood lead levels in children. Children under the age of six are at risk of developing cognitive health effects even at very low blood lead levels. Pregnant women or those who might become pregnant must avoid lead exposure because it is toxic to the fetus. Another source of environmental exposure to lead is from workers who take home lead dust on their clothing and shoes.

RADON TRAINING

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. It cannot be seen and has no odor. Since testing is the only way to find radon, it can have a big impact on indoor air quality.

MOLD AND MOISTURE CONTROL TRAINING

Molds are fungi that are found indoors and outdoors year-round. The terms fungi and mold are often used interchangeably, but mold is actually a type of fungi. Concern about indoor exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of adverse health effects. There are many thousands of species of mold. Most mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. It seems likely to grow and become a problem only when there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness.

Molds produce and release millions of spores small enough to be air-, water-, or insect-borne. They can also produce toxic agents known as mycotoxins. Spores and mycotoxins can have negative effects on human health. For those people who are affected by mold exposures, there can be a wide variation in how they react. People at greatest risk of health effects are individuals with allergies, asthma, sinusitis, or other respiratory conditions, as well as infants and children, elderly people, and pregnant women. In addition, individuals with a weakened immune system are at risk.

Mold is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry.

FIRST AID AND AED TRAINING

First aid refers to medical attention that is usually administered immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer. First aid can include:

  • Cleaning minor cuts, scrapes, or scratches.
  • Treating a minor burn.
  • Applying bandages and dressings.
  • The use of non-prescription medicine.
  • Draining blisters.
  • Removing debris from the eyes.
  • Massage.
  • Drinking fluids to relieve heat stress.

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is an electronic device designed to deliver an electric shock to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Ventricular fibrillation may be restored to normal rhythm up to 60 percent of the time if treated promptly with an AED, a procedure called defibrillation.

OSHA does not have standards specific to AEDs. However, exposures to first-aid hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.

ADDITIONAL TRAINING THAT MAY BE PART OF AN EWDJT CURRICULUM

Employees working on Brownfields sites may also need site-specific training. Training should familiarize employees with the site-specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP) and the exposure controls appropriate for each site task. Training may include (as applicable):

  • Site-specific emergency response procedures.
  • Personal protective equipment use and selection.
  • Heat and cold stress awareness.
  • Air monitoring requirements.
  • Site-specific decontamination procedures.
  • Fall protection.
  • Walking and working surfaces.
  • OSHA control of hazardous energy regulations (Lockout/Tagout).
  • Any other applicable site requirements.

Site-specific training may be conducted throughout the project as site tasks and conditions change.