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Spill training: Incidental or emergency?: Answer

Answer: Incidental releases of hazardous substances that are routinely cleaned up by those from outside the immediate release area need not be considered emergency responses solely because the employees responsible for cleanup come from outside the immediate release area. The janitor does not have to respond in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.120; although, the janitor would be expected to understand the hazards associated with paint thinner through Hazard Communication training. Proper personal protective equipment training is also required if such equipment is needed.

See the definition of incidental releases inside the definition of emergency response at 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(3). The definition of emergency response says, “Emergency response or responding to emergencies means a response effort by employees from outside the immediate release area or by other designated responders (i.e., mutual-aid groups, local fire departments, etc.) to an occurrence which results, or is likely to result, in an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance. Responses to incidental releases of hazardous substances where the substance can be absorbed, neutralized, or otherwise controlled at the time of release by employees in the immediate release area, or by maintenance personnel are not considered to be emergency responses within the scope of this standard. Responses to releases of hazardous substances where there is no potential safety or health hazard (i.e., fire, explosion, or chemical exposure) are not considered to be emergency responses.”