USF OTIEC customizes HAZWOPER for US Army, introduces revised OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

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This month, the USF OSHA Training Institute Education Center unveiled a new 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) course tailored for the military and other government employees at the US Army Reserves facilities at 9500 Armed Forces Reserves Drive in Orlando, Fla.

The course, which lasted May 14-18, trained attendees on the revised OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) that was announced in March, making this the USF OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center’s first course offering to do so. Employers are not required to have trained employees on new label elements and the safety data sheet format detailed within the revision until December 1, 2013.

Maj. Gregory Flewellen, a safety officer of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, said this was his first time taking HAZWOPER training. “We have to know how to respond to these types of situations,” he said of Army Reserve units tasked with handling hazardous materials. “I found that the training this week was very detailed, with the mock exercises and information presented. I was very impressed with the instructors.”

In addition to required topic coverage, including the cleanup, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous substances, this customized 40-Hour HAZWOPER course incorporates key topics from the USF OTI Education Center’s Disaster Site Worker course.

According to senior instructor Dennis O’Brien, this hybridization delves into disaster site incursions, crime scene forensics, explosives (secondary IEDs), incident command systems, and other training elements geared toward law enforcement and military workers. A key component of the course included mock exercises and a complete dress out, which allowed trainees to wear personal protective equipment and practice the use of a self-contained breathing apparatus.

Safety and Occupational Health Manager Claude Whitney of the 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, which handles parts of hurricane response plans for the city of Orlando, is responsible for ensuring Army reservists are ready to respond to critical events across the Southeastern United States.

“This is by far the most accurate and realistic training I’ve seen out of the schools I’ve trained with,” Whitney said. “It’s the first class I’ve had with a full dress out that included gloves, boots and suits, and we like giving (the reservists) a hands-on experience… I cannot think of a single complaint.”

Lt. Col. Anthony Claudio, who was present for the training, described the need for hands-on training. “When you’re outside in (the suit), you can feel the sweat and you have a better idea of how much you can handle.” he said. “It’s similar to how you have to throw the ball or swing a bat in order to learn how to play baseball. In the classroom, which can be very dry and tedious, you have no idea what it’s really like.”

The USF OTI Education Center has provided OSHA training across the U.S. military, including for the Navy, Army, Coast Guard and Air Force. In addition, the USF OTI Education Center has provided specialized training for NASA and multiple agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service.

To learn more about customized training by the USF OTI Education Center, please contact George Buck at (813) 994-1195 ext. 205. For more information about the USF OTI Education Center, visit

Story and Photos by Amanda Moore