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Your Environment. Your Health.

Safety and Training of Oil Spill Response Workers

NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) awardees have provided resources, trainers, and subject matter expertise during many oil spill response and related cleanup operations. The following resources provide health and safety information for workers involved in oil spill response and cleanup activities.


Worker Training Program Resources

Training Tool and Companion Booklet

The following training tool is an awareness-level health and safety resource for workers NOT exposed to petroleum or other chemical products but whom may have a role in supporting clean up efforts. The tool will help workers understand at an awareness level:

  • What an oil spill is
  • Characteristics of an oil spill response
  • How to identify and control hazards pertaining to response and cleanup activities associated with an oil spill

Trainers may use this tool to aid in the development of an oil spill response awareness-level course or other awareness-level materials such as fact sheets and tabletop activities. The pocket-sized companion booklet may be distributed with the training and used as a resource when workers are on a disaster site. The training tool and the booklet are available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.


Document  Booklet Training Tool PowerPoint 
NIEHS Oil Spill Cleanup Initiative: Safety Awareness for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers (English) PDF Booklet(2.9 MB) Microsoft PowerPoint(6.7 MB)
Iniciativa de Limpieza del Derrame de Petróleo: Seguridad y Concienciación de Salud para Trabajadores de Limpieza de Derrames de Petróleo (Spanish)
PDF Booklet(1.6 MB) Microsoft PowerPoint(6 MB)
NIEHS Oil Spill Cleanup Initiative: Safety Awareness for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers (Vietnamese) PDF Booklet(2.9 MB) Microsoft PowerPoint(6 MB)

If workers have health related questions about the oil spill, call your local Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222. Poison Control Centers offer free, confidential services 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are staffed by medically trained professionals. If workers encounter a hazardous working condition, contact 800-321-OSHA (6742) or TTY 877-889-5627.


Training Courses

Two different levels of training for oil spill workers have been developed and supported by NIEHS.

  • 40-hour Training Course on Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. This is commonly known as HAZWOPER training. This is part of our regular, ongoing worker training offered through NIEHS and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This extensive training is for supervisors and individuals who will likely have direct contact with oil spill products. 
  • Short 2 and 4-hour training courses on Safety and Health Awareness. The NIEHS, together with OSHA, helped develop several short educational courses, including some online training, which focus on the necessary hazard awareness and safety training for all oil spill workers. This training is provided to individuals who will have minimal contact with oil spill products.

In 2012, the NIEHS WTP, with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), initiated the Gulf Responder Resilience Training Program to address behavioral health training and education for disaster-impacted communities. The project has developed awareness-levels training materials for disaster workers, disaster supervisors, and disaster care providers.


Additional Resources on the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill Response

Shortly after an explosion occurred on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, NIEHS was asked to provide materials on the hazards related to oil spills. WTP staff and awardees led the effort to provide support to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, beginning with the development and dissemination of safety and health awareness training for oil spill cleanup workers.

Federal Oil Spill Resources

Other Oil Spill Resources

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