Skip Navigation
National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesNational Institutes of Health
Increase text size Decrease text size Print this page

General Summary of Training Activities

Worker Education and Training Program


The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 ( Exit NIEHS Website established an assistance program for training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal, containment and emergency response. Grant recipients are non-profit organizations with demonstrated access to appropriate worker populations and experience in implementing and operating worker health and safety education training programs. Until Fiscal Year (FY) 2000, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) was given responsibility for establishing and managing this program through Interagency Agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). To achieve this, the NIEHS established the Worker Education and Training Program (WETP). The core program for the WETP is its Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program (HWWTP). Beginning in FY 2001, the WETP began receiving direct funding for the HWWTP and the Minority Worker Training Program (MWTP). In FY 2006, the WETP developed a new program, the Hazmat Disaster Preparedness Training Program (HDPTP), in response to the experiences and lessons learned in recent national disasters including terrorist attacks.

hazardous waste worker training

During the past eighteen years, the NIEHS WETP in conjunction with 20 awardees has supported the development of curricula and initiation of training programs throughout the country to help employers meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements under CFR 1910.120, Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response ( document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9765) Exit NIEHS Website . This model program encourages innovation for training difficult-to-reach populations by addressing issues such as literacy, appropriate adult education techniques, training quality improvement, and other areas un-addressed directly by the private sector. The program enhances rather than replaces private sector training responsibility by demonstrating new and cost-effective training techniques and materials.

The training in the program meets the minimum requirements of the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120 and EPA 40 CFR 311 ( htm) Exit NIEHS Website standards for hazardous waste operations and emergency response. The rule is enforced by Federal OSHA and State governments authorized and funded through OSHA State-plans, while the EPA rule covers public sector workers who are not otherwise covered by OSHA standards in non-OSHA State-plan. In 1987 OSHA estimated, at a minimum, that this standard would cover two million workers and supervisors who are at risk. Since then there is evidence that considerably more workers are covered.

Since 1986, a number of other training grant programs have been authorized and funded by Congress. These programs include workers involved in transporting hazardous materials, a minority worker job training program (MWTP) to serve urban youth, an initiative focused on job training for brownfields cleanup sites (BMWTP), a program that will train workers in prevention and response techniques related to future terrorist incidents (HDPTP), and a program targeted to workers involved in the cleanup of the DOE nuclear weapons facilities. The Brownfields and the DOE training programs continue to be funded through Interagency Agreements with EPA and DOE. Direct appropriation to the NIEHS for the HWWTP allowed the WETP to take a percentage of the funding to establish a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)/ Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) program that focuses on developing E- Learning health and safety products.

In 2001, the WETP also received significant supplemental funding for its awardees in response to the September 11th attacks and subsequent emergency response and remediation activities. These supplemental awards include grant activities relating to training workers to undertake cleanup of environmental problems stemming from Bioterrorism (Anthrax), World Trade Center (WTC), and potential Weapons of Mass Destruction incidents (WMD).

Program Areas

During 2004, the NIEHS released a program announcement for the WETP requesting applications to support training activities over the next five-year period (FY 2005-2010). The Request for Applications (RFA) included four distinct program areas: the Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program (HWWTP), the Minority Worker Training Program (MWTP), the Brownfields Minority Worker Training Program (BMWTP), and the Hazmat Disaster Preparedness Program (HDPTP) and a distinct component for the DOE Nuclear Weapons Complex (DOE Program). After a lengthy review by committees of outside experts and other federal agencies, in a resulting competition, NIEHS announced 17 awards in September 2005 with over 80 participating institutions in this program.

NIEHS awarded 17 awards for the HWWTP, 4 awards for the MWTP, 4 awards for the EPA BMWTP, 9 awards for the HDPTP, and 8 awards for DOE Nuclear Worker Training Program. As a result of this competition, the NIEHS WETP supports the development of model worker safety and health training development and delivery in five areas:

  1. HWWTP: this training program provides model occupational safety and health training for workers who are or may be engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal or containment or chemical emergency response.
  2. MWTP: this program focuses on delivering comprehensive training to disadvantaged minority inner city young adults in order to prepare them for employment in the environmental restoration and hazardous materials field.
  3. BMWTP: this program focuses on the providing training to disadvantaged residents surrounding Brownfield sites.
  4. DOE Nuclear Weapons Cleanup Training: this training assistance program is targeted for workers engaged in environmental restoration, waste treatment and emergency response activities at sites in the DOE nuclear weapons complex.
  5. HDPTP: this program fosters the development of specific training programs for the purpose of preparing a cadre of experienced workers for prevention and response to future terrorist incidents.

Funding Summary

Through direct appropriation to the NIEHS and interagency agreements with EPA and DOE for budget period September 1, 2005 through August 31, 2006, funds were allocated to continue support of the Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) to train hazardous waste workers and emergency responders. In FY 2005, NIEHS received more than $37 million to support the WETP. Of the $37 million, $26 million from the NIEHS appropriation supported 3 programs which included $20,541,460 for the HWWTP, $3,500,000 for the MWTP, and $2,498,208 for the HDPTP. Two million dollars of the FY 2005 EPA interagency agreements funds were allocated to continue support for the BMWTP. In addition, $9,405,846 of the FY 2005 DOE interagency agreements funds was allocated to continue support for the DOE program. As a result, NIEHS awarded:

Program Awardees Total Reward
HWWTP 17 $20,541,460
MWTP 4 $3,500,000
BMWTP 4 $2,000,000
HDPTP 9 $2,498,208
DOE 8 $9,405,846

In a separate action, NIEHS awarded a contract for $863,143 to manage the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training to MDB, Inc. The National Clearinghouse is the national source for hazardous waste worker curricula, technical reports, and weekly news. MDB, Inc. is a privately-owned communications and research consulting company with offices in Washington, DC and Research Triangle Park, NC. More information on the National Clearinghouse can be found on the internet at ( or call 202-331-7733.

In addition, under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program, NIEHS recently made five SBIR awards. These awards were for the development of innovative e-learning products for worker safety and health training. These awards total $592,401. Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health
This page URL:
NIEHS website:
Email the Web Manager at
Last Reviewed: May 07, 2007