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The Importance of a HAZWOPER Refresher Course

Depending on the industry you work in, you may have to deal with toxic or hazardous chemicals daily. Someone working in a place like a hazardous waste treatment plant needs HAZWOPER training to stay safe and avoid potential exposure.

OSHA-approved training should make workers more aware of hazards, minimize risk, and prepare them for emergency situations. However, training can take anywhere from 24 to 40 hours to complete. The refresher course acts as a quick way to renew their certification.

Here's why you should make use of HAZWOPER refresher courses and the benefits it brings to your business.

What is a HAZWOPER Refresher Course?

HAZWOPER, or Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, is a standard made and regulated by OSHA. It regulates any operations or emergency services that deal with hazardous waste disposal throughout the United States.

Each level of training has a different number of hours it takes to complete. The HAZWOPER refresher course is the shortest of all three. There are also different types of training offered based on occupation and work responsibilities.

The Three HAZWOPER Courses

HAZWOPER training is split up into three training courses:

  • HAZWOPER 8-hour refresher training
  • HAZWOPER 24-hour training
  • HAZWOPER 40-hour training

Every employee first takes either the 24-hour or 40-hour training course if their occupation requires it. The one that takes longer to complete is more comprehensive but may be unnecessary for most site workers.

The shorter of the two courses is for general site workers who may have to deal with hazardous substances on occasion. They must not be exposed to substances surpassing the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).

The longer of the two courses is for workers who focus more on hazardous material removal. As such, they may be exposed to substances past the PELs and must wear personal protective equipment.

Finally, there's the refresher course. This covers the basics and is meant to allow workers to bypass the longer training courses if they've already done them before.

Usually, the refresher has to be completed before the original certification expires.

Types of Training

HAZWOPER training is further broken up based on occupation.

Site clean-up coworkers and supervisors take the HAZWOPER (e) series. Workers at hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities must get the (p) series. Emergency responders and incident commanders take the (q) series training.

Benefits of Your Refresher HAZWOPER Course

Why is the HAZWOPER refresher course important for employees and businesses? Wouldn't it be better or safer to have them retake the full course instead?

The refresher course is all about speeding up the process while making sure your employees still know what they're doing. It's also a way to keep them up to date with any changes OSHA has made.

More Affordable Training

First of all, a HAZWOPER refresher course helps employers save money. Because it's so much shorter than the full courses, it's less expensive. This may not seem like a big issue for smaller companies, but larger companies may have a larger number of employees to cover.

Additionally, the refresher course is available online. As a result, it's much easier for your employees at different sites to take. You won't have to set up a special training day at one of your own facilities.

Reduce Accident Rate

Continuous training is one of the best ways to keep your employees safe. This is especially true with how quickly safety regulations and processes can change.

Fewer workplace accidents mean less paperwork. It means that you won't have to deal with workers taking time off or getting workers' compensation. Your employees will also know how to respond if there is an incident.

OSHA Compliance

HAZWOPER training is legally required if your employees are expected to work with hazardous materials. Using a refresher course allows your business to comply with OSHA regulations in the most affordable and time-efficient way.

Another way it helps with compliance is the fact that the refresher course must be taken every year. There may be a grace period, but that depends on the employer. If that date is missed, then you may have to retake the full course to renew your certification.

Emphasize Safety and Health

Utilizing the 8-hour HAZWOPER course shows your employees that you're focused on keeping them safe and in good health. Even though the refresher course isn't required to maintain your certification in the short term, it reminds everyone of the dangers they can face in the workplace.

Less Time Spent on Training

The HAZWOPER refresher course is by far the shortest available training option. It's eight hours you can do online on your own time once a year. The only downside is that it's yearly, while the full course can be done once every three years or so.

However, it's not exactly an either-or situation. If an employee misses the refresher course time window, then they may need to retake the full course even if it's only been a year or so. It all depends on the employer and what they expect from their workers.

Improve Reputation

Maintaining a good reputation is important for both your stakeholders and employee morale. Sponsoring refresher training is one way to do so.

It's also a good way to make sure that your employees are keeping up to date with OSHA standards. In turn, this will mean fewer accidents which make your management look bad.


The HAZWOPER refresher course is available online from various websites. As long as they've been identified or listed by a government agency, then you know they're safe to use.

In particular, the refresher course is a quick 8 hours that you can do over the course of a weekend. It's much easier than doing the full 40-hour course every year or two.

Keep Your Operations Compliant

A HAZWOPER refresher course is one step in keeping your employees up to date with OSHA standards. However, they still need to take the relevant 24-hour or 40-hour course beforehand. Without it, the refresher is meaningless. 

Compliance Training Online offers online courses for whatever industry you work in. Some of the various courses listed include EPA training, HAZMAT training, OSHA, and healthcare. Contact us to learn more and take a look at our catalog.



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