Marines Enrolled in Hazwoper Training Hope to Save Lives

Marines Enrolled in Hazwoper Training learn hazardous material storageUnited States Marines, stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, recently attended a 40-hour HAZWOPER training course, designed to instruct the attendees about hazardous waste storage, compatibility, handling, emergency response, the science behind hazardous materials, and their toxic effects.

The course was part of an effort to train the marines in a comprehensive manner, as part of their education to become qualified first-responders. The Marines conducted classes indoors, for three days, before exercising practical application. Especially important was the handling of hazardous waste storage materials.

Program Coordinator, Mitchell Farrell, said, “It’s a comprehensive course and one of the most highly sought courses that you can take in the Marine Corps or as a civilian.”

Sgt. Kayla Stitt, environmental compliance coordinator with MWSS-171, said, “The more people we have trained in this manner, the more people we can possibly save. They can go out and de-escalate whatever situation may occur.”

The items addressed in the training course, included:

  • Hazards associated with chemicals
  • Locating information on different chemicals
  • The four central aspects of planning and organizing a hazardous waste storage site (organizational structure, work-plan, safety meetings, inspections)

During the simulation, the groups of enlisted men were trained on decontamination-line protocol, how to extract hazardous-waste samples, and PPE (personal protective equipment) protocol.

Sgt. Valentin Vivaldo said, “This training benefits the unit because you never know when a chemical spill will occur, on or off-base. They can send us to identify the chemical and assist in the clean-up.”

“HAZWOPER is a recognized certification, in both the private industry and the Department of Defense,” said Ferrell. “If you’re going into environmental safety or occupational health, this is absolutely a certification that you want to have.” Ferrell said that officials plan to conduct the next HAZWOPER training, before Summer.

In many industries, including in construction and general industry workplaces, HAZWOPER training is mandated. For the U.S. Marines, in this case, HAZWOPER training could spell the difference between life and death. The same is true of civilians who work with potentially hazardous materials or in workplaces that house those materials. Safety leaders should utilize an OSHA-approved training course as a resource to ensure agency compliance and the safety of their employees.