Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training is not just a matter of compliance. It’s also a critical investment for worker safety and environmental protection. Two of the most common training durations are the HAZWOPER 24-hour and 40-hour courses. 

So, what’s the difference between the two? And which one is right for you? 

In this blog, we’ll provide a detailed comparative analysis of these two courses to help individuals and organizations make informed decisions tailored to their specific job requirements. 


The HAZWOPER standard is mandatory for people who handle hazardous waste as emergency responders, uncontrolled site hazardous waste site operators, and treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF) workers. 

When comparing HAZWOPER’s 24-hour and 40-hour training programs, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions to ensure workers receive the appropriate level of training for their specific job roles and potential hazards. Here’s a detailed comparison: 


The HAZWOPER 24-hour training is primarily designed for individuals who are occasionally exposed to hazardous substances but do not engage in cleanup operations. 

This includes workers on a site only occasionally for a specific limited task (such as surveying) and those who regularly work on sites that have been deemed clean, safe, and under permissible exposure limits.

This course typically covers a range of topics, including hazard recognition, exposure limits, and basic response strategies. It’s less comprehensive than the 40-hour version but provides essential knowledge for workers to perform their tasks safely in potentially hazardous environments. 

In short, HAZWOPER 24-hour training is:

  • Designed for workers who visit hazardous waste operation sites occasionally or are not directly involved in the cleanup processes.
  • Suitable for employees whose work on a site is limited to a specific task, like surveying, and who don’t handle waste or hazardous materials directly.
  • Often chosen by those who work in areas that have been deemed clean, safe, and under permissible exposure limits.


The HAZWOPER 40-hour training is the standard for workers involved in cleaning up hazardous waste sites, operating hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities, or responding to emergencies involving hazardous substances. 

This training is detailed and comprehensive, designed for workers who are engaged in activities that expose or potentially expose them to hazardous substances. 

This course covers more in-depth topics such as personal protective equipment, decontamination procedures, and emergency response planning. It’s designed to ensure workers can handle a wide range of scenarios they might encounter on the job. 

In short, HAZWOPER 40-hour training is:

  • Intended for workers engaged in the cleanup, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.
  • Essential for employees who are potentially exposed to hazardous substances regularly and are involved in emergency response operations.
  • Required for those who work at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites as defined by the government. 


Selecting the right course depends on the specific duties and potential hazards one might encounter. 

The 24-hour training is suitable for workers who visit hazardous sites infrequently and are not directly involved in cleanup activities. You should take a HAZWOPER 24-hour course if you work with or near hazardous materials under permissible exposure limits (PELs).  

On the other hand, the 40-hour training is essential for those who work regularly with hazardous substances or in environments where such hazards are present. It’s also crucial for those involved in emergency response to be well-versed with the extensive knowledge and skills this training provides. 

If you work with hazardous materials that are at or above permissible exposure limits, you should take a 40-hour HAZWOPER course

Workers at the highest level of risk need the 40-hour initial training. You need HAZWOPER 40 if you will: 

  • Work with and clean up hazardous materials regularly
  • Be involved in the storage and treatment of hazardous substances
  • Have exposure at or above Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)
  • Work in environments where you need respirators and other PPE for more than 30 days a year
  • Supervise employees who do any of the above 


Both training courses end with a certification that demonstrates the individual’s understanding and ability to work safely around hazardous materials. This certification is not just a personal achievement but a regulatory requirement under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. 

However, there are HAZWOPER certification differences: 

HAZWOPER 24-Hour Training: 

  • Meets OSHA requirements for workers with limited exposure to hazardous sites.
  • Ensures that employees understand the basics of hazard recognition and can operate safely under normal working conditions.

HAZWOPER 40-Hour Training: 

  • Fulfills OSHA requirements for workers at hazardous sites and those involved in emergency response.
  • Provides a comprehensive understanding necessary for managing and responding to emergencies involving hazardous substances. 

Employers must ensure their staff is adequately trained and certified to comply with federal regulations and maintain a safe working environment. 


When choosing between HAZWOPER 24 and 40, individuals and employers should consider the nature of the work, the frequency of exposure to hazardous substances, and the potential risks involved. 

For those whose roles are peripheral to hazardous waste operations, the 24-hour course may be enough. However, for those directly involved in handling hazardous materials or responding to related emergencies, the 40-hour training is indispensable. 

Understanding the distinctions and applications of each will help you make an informed decision, ensuring safety and compliance in your or your employees’ respective roles. 

Remember, the right training can not only save lives but also ensure the well-being of our environment. Therefore, you should choose wisely. Here’s what you should look for: 

  • Easy, Online HAZWOPER Training
  • Meets OSHA Training Requirements
  • Flexible, Engaging Courses
  • Self-Paced Without Timers

Fortunately, as the #1 trusted OSHA safety training provider, OSHAcampus by 360training offers all of the above and more. Explore our effective HAZWOPER training courses, and sign up today!