If you visit Western Michigan University's campus in July, you might see students in protective gear attending a Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training course. HAZWOPER is the first module in a series of Hydrogeology Field Courses offered through the Department of Geosciences. After some high-profile environmental accidents in the 1970s, the U.S. began programs to control hazardous waste. To protect workers at these sites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed this training program.
According to OSHA, the HAZWOPER standard applies to five distinct groups of employers and their employees. This includes any employee who is exposed, or potentially exposed, to dangerous substances at hazardous waste sites including treatment, storage and disposal facilities. Also, workers involved in emergency response operations dealing with hazardous waste must have attended the HAZWOPER course.
Students from around the country attended this year's program. The course focused on the safe handling of hazardous materials that might be encountered during drilling, soil sampling, or water sampling. There are many careers that require this training including those with environmental and engineering consulting firms, federal and state government departments and agencies, and oil, gas and mining companies. Envirologic Project Scientist Caitlin Andler attended this training program in 2014. "HAZWOPER training is an important aspect of my position at Envirologic," she said, "situations may arise where I could come into contact with hazardous materials while conducting site inspections. This program ensures I know how to correctly and safely act."
For over 20 years Dave Stegink, Envirologic's Associate Vice President and Senior Environmental Scientist is taught the HAZWOPER course for WMU. He believes "it's a very rewarding experience to help train the next generation of environmental professionals to do this work in a safe and competent manner." A previous student of this program, Derrick Lingle, shared his thoughts about Dave's leadership. "Dave does a great job making this course interactive, so when it comes time to apply these safety principals outside of class, they stay top-of-mind."
According to Western Michigan University, the Hydrogeology Field Course, is one of the very few hydro-technical programs in the United States. This applied course, including the HAZWOPER module, has trained hundreds of students in the past, and this summer added a few dozen more.
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hazwoper • western michigan university • hydrogeology field course • department of geosciences • hazardous waste • osha