What is an OSHA Refresher?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
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OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This federal agency generally deals with health and safety of people while they are working. It requires people who work in the vicinity of hazardous materials to take courses to lessen their risk of injury. This generally begins with an initial Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) course of at least 24 hours. This should be followed by an annual HAZWOPER course known as the OSHA refresher.

HAZWOPER training is required for people exposed to hazardous substances or those who have the potential to be exposed. This can include medical workers, emergency response workers, and those employed at hazardous waste treatment facilities. It could also pertain to people such as truck drivers, who visit hazardous site only occasionally.

The OSHA refresher regulations are somewhat lax. In cases where a person does not complete the OSHA refresher within a year, there are no exact consequences defined by the agency. The person is not automatically regarded as unfit for his job. It is left to the employer to decide whether or not that person should take the initial course again.


There are also no strict rules regarding who is qualified to be an administer of the refresher course. OSHA outlines the subjects that need to be reviewed during the course. Any person who is qualified, whether by degrees or work experience, may act as an instructor. He should also be able to address any special concerns or issues that pertain to the specific environments of those he is teaching. This means a person who specializes in hazardous materials in a health setting may not be qualified to teach those who work in a chemical waste facility.

The rules as to how the refresher must be taken are also liberal. Some classes may be scheduled as a one-day affair. Others may be broken into segments for the convenience of the students. OSHA’s main concern is that all of the defined subject matter is covered.

There are some websites that allow a person to take the OSHA refresher course online. Upon successful completion of the course, a certificate is usually issued that can be downloaded and printed out. People required by their jobs to complete an OSHA refresher may want to check to ensure that this is an acceptable option. Although OSHA’s regulations may not be strict, they may be regarded as a minimum standard if state governments impose harsher rules.



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