Hazardous Waste Operations

Chapter 296-843, WAC

Effective Date: 05/01/04

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WAC 296-843-300

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Buddy system

A system of organizing employees into work groups so that each employee is assigned to observe another employee in the same work group. The purpose of this system is to provide rapid assistance to employees in the event of an emergency.

Clean-up operation

An operation where hazardous substances are removed, contained, incinerated, neutralized, stabilized, cleared-up, or in any other manner processed or handled with the goal of making the site safer for people or the environment.

Contamination reduction zone

The buffer zone between the exclusion and the clean zone.


The removal of hazardous substances from employees and equipment, to the extent necessary, to avoid foreseeable adverse health effects.

Emergency response or responding to emergencies

An organized response to an anticipated release of a hazardous substance that’s, or could become, an uncontrolled release.

Exclusion zone

A controlled area at a site, where contamination occurs, that’s a risk to human health or the environment.

Exposure or exposed

Employee contact with a toxic substance, harmful physical agent, or oxygen deficient condition. Exposure can occur through various routes of entry, such as inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or skin absorption.


Any building structure, installation, equipment, pipe, or pipeline (including any pipe into a sewer or publicly owned treatment works), well, pit, pond, lagoon, impoundment, ditch, storage container, motor vehicle, rolling stock, or aircraft


Any site or area where a hazardous substance has been deposited, stored, disposed of, placed, or otherwise located (not including any boat, ship or barge).

Hazardous substance

Any of the following substances that could adversely affect an exposed employee's health or safety:

– Substances defined under section 101(14) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) or “Superfund” Act (found at: http://www.epa.gov).

– Biological or other disease-causing agents released that could reasonably be expected to cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutation, physiological malfunctions, including malfunctions in reproduction, or physical deformations in a person or their offspring when the person:

    • Is directly exposed to the agent in the environment.
    • Directly ingests, inhales, or assimilates the agent from the environment.
    • Indirectly ingests the agent through a food chain.

– Substances listed by the United States Department of Transportation as hazardous materials under Title 49 (Transportation) in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 172, section 101 and appendices (found at: http://www.nara.gov, search for “List of CFR subjects”).

– Hazardous wastes as defined in this chapter.

Hazardous waste

Any substance designated by the Department of Ecology as a dangerous or extremely hazardous waste by chapter 173-303 WAC, Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Hazardous waste site

A hazardous waste site is any facility or location within the scope of this chapter.

Hazardous materials team (HAZMAT team)

A group of employees who are expected to perform responses to releases, or possible releases, of hazardous substances for the purpose of control and stabilization. As a result of their duties, HAZMAT team members may have close contact with hazardous substances.

Health hazard

A chemical, mixture, biological agent, or physical agent that may cause health effects in short- or long-term exposed employees based on statistically significant evidence from at least one study conducted using established scientific principles. Health hazards include:

– Carcinogens

– Toxic or highly toxic agents

– Reproductive toxins

– Irritants

– Corrosives

– Sensitizers

– Hepatotoxins (liver toxins)

– Nephrotoxins (kidney toxins)

– Neurotoxins (nervous system toxins)

– Substances that act on the hematopoietic system (blood or blood-forming system)

– Substances that can damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes

– Hot or cold conditions.

IDLH or immediately dangerous to life or health

Any atmospheric condition that would:

Cause an immediate threat to life;


Cause permanent or delayed adverse health effects;


Interfere with an employee's ability to escape.

Incidental release

A release that can be safely controlled at the time of the release and doesn’t have the potential to become an uncontrolled release.

An example of a situation that results in an incidental release:

A tanker truck is receiving a load of hazardous liquid when a leak occurs. The driver knows the only hazard from the liquid is minor skin irritation. The employer has trained the driver on procedures and provided equipment to use for a release of this quantity. The driver puts on skin protection and stops the leak. A spill kit is used to contain, absorb, and pick up the spilled material for disposal.

Material safety data sheet (MSDS)

Written, printed, or electronic information (on paper, microfiche, or on-screen) that informs manufacturers, distributors, employers or employees about a hazardous chemical, its hazards and protective measures as required by chapter 296-839 WAC, Content and distribution of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and label information.

Oxygen deficiency

An atmosphere where the percentage of oxygen by volume is less than 19.5%.

Permissible exposure limit (PEL)

Permissible exposure limits (PELs) are employee exposures to toxic substances or harmful physical agents that must not be exceeded. PELs are specified in applicable WISHA rules.

Published exposure level

Exposure limits published in “National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommendations for Occupational Safety and Health” (DHHS publication #92-100, 1992).

If an exposure limit isn’t published by NIOSH, then “published exposure level” means the exposure limits published by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) in “TLVs and BEIs-Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents” (1999 edition).

Post-emergency response

The stage of the emergency response where the immediate threat from the release has been stabilized or eliminated, and clean-up of the site has started. For more information, see the definition for “emergency response.”

Site safety and health supervisor (or official)

The individual present at a hazardous waste site who is responsible to the employer and has the authority and knowledge necessary to establish the site-specific health and safety plan and verify compliance with applicable safety and health requirements.

Site work zones

Zones established at a hazardous waste site before clean-up work begins to control work on the site and access to the site. The work zones are: Exclusion zone, contamination reduction zone, and clean zone.

Uncontrolled hazardous waste site

An area where an accumulation of hazardous substances creates a threat to the health and safety of individuals or the environment or both. Examples include: Former municipal, county, or state landfills, locations where illegal or poorly managed waste disposal has taken place, or property of generators or former generators of hazardous substance waste (surface impoundments, landfills, dumps, and tank or drum farms).

Uncontrolled release

A release where significant safety and health risks could be created. Releases of hazardous substances that are either incidental or couldn’t create a safety or health hazard (i.e., fire, explosion, or chemical exposure) aren’t considered to be uncontrolled releases.

Examples of conditions that could create significant safety and health risk:

– Large-quantity releases.

– Small releases that could be highly toxic.

– Potentially contaminated individuals arriving at hospitals.

– Airborne exposures that could exceed a WISHA permissible exposure limit or a published exposure limit and employees aren’t adequately trained or equipped to control the release.

Example of an uncontrolled release:

A forklift driver knocks over a container of a solvent-based liquid, releasing the contents onto the warehouse floor. The driver has been trained to recognize the vapor is flammable and moderately toxic when inhaled. The driver hasn’t been trained or provided appropriate equipment to address this type of spill. In this situation, it isn’t safe for the driver to attempt a response. The driver needs to notify someone of the release so an emergency response can be initiated.

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