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Your Environment. Your Health.

History and Goals

Worker Training Program

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) was established under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA), Section 126(g), which authorizes an assistance program for training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste, such as generation, removal, containment, transportation, and emergency response. Congress assigned responsibility for administering this program to the NIEHS. The program funds nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated track record of providing high-quality occupational safety and health training to workers involved in handling hazardous materials or in responding to emergency releases of hazardous materials.

Minimum Criteria

Minimum Health and Safety Training Criteria: Guidance for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) and HAZWOPER-Supporting Training
NIEHS Minimum Criteria document

Model training programs for hazardous waste workers and emergency responders need to satisfy minimum requirements as specified in federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and other related regulations. Training programs also are required to meet the NIEHS Minimum Health and Safety Training Criteria: Guidance for HAZWOPER and HAZWOPER-Supporting Training. This guidance emphasizes the principles of adult education, establishes minimum criteria for designing training programs, establishes quality control requirements for training programs, and provides generic guidelines for training curriculum.

Skills-Based Learning

With worker health and safety training, an immediate goal is to provide students with relevant information, problem-solving skills, and the confidence needed to use these tools. Long-term goals are to assure that workers become and remain active participants in determining and improving the health and safety conditions under which they work and to support collaborative employer-employee relationships in creating safe workplaces. Successful adult education emphasizes peer-sharing activities, such as problem-solving and simulation exercises, that tap the experience of the learner. After training, workers should be able to bring what they have learned in the classroom or worksite training back to their jobs.

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