Hazardous materials training, often simply referred to as hazmat training, is any type of instruction aimed at preparing a person for safely handling and disposing of hazardous materials. This type of training can be offered by a company for its employees, or may be provided by an outside group or even a government agency, depending on the materials covered. Any workplace in the United States (US) that includes materials that have been deemed potentially hazardous will usually include some form of hazmat training as part of orientation for new employees. Other hazmat programs are often offered to individuals who are working in areas that may lead to them coming in contact with hazardous materials, such as emergency workers and military personnel.
Most companies and government agencies consider hazardous materials to be any types of materials that can be potentially dangerous to a person when direct exposure occurs. This can include items that can irritate skin, can cause harm if exposed to the eyes, may be poisonous if ingested, and even substances that produce vapors that can be toxic if inhaled. Proper hazmat training is typically important to ensure that an individual or employee who comes in contact with these items will know how to deal with them in a way that is safe for that person and those around him or her.
Hazmat training can be provided by some retail companies and intended to deal with certain materials sold at retail locations. This is typically required in the US by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) of the US Department of Labor. OSHA establishes and enforces government policies regarding safety in the workplace, including dealing with and properly disposing of hazardous materials. This can include materials as common as paint or swimming pool cleaning tablets, or more obviously dangerous chemicals such as acids and volatile cleaning products.
Other government agencies within the US have also established hazmat training protocols for certain types of industries. For example, the US Department of Transportation has established the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration which works to ensure that anyone dealing with oil pipelines and other similar structures is ready for dealing with hazmat situations that may arise in the workplace. These policies typically exist to keep professionals in these fields safe, and ensure compliance with hazmat laws regarding these types of materials.
Certain professionals may also undergo hazmat training as part of occupational training for nonspecific employment opportunities. These include positions such as emergency workers or military personnel who need to know how to deal with potentially dangerous materials they may encounter at emergency locations or battlefields. This can include specific types of hazmat training such as highway emergency response or dealing with weapons of mass destruction in public transportation.