The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) was given major responsibility for initiating a training grants program under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act. The objective of this program is to fund non-profit organizations with a demonstrated track record of providing occupational safety and health education in developing and delivering high-quality training to workers who are involved in handling hazardous waste or in responding to emergency releases of hazardous materials. Since the initiation of the Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program in 1987, NIEHS has developed a strong network of non-profit organizations that are committed to protecting workers and their communities by delivering high-quality, peer-reviewed safety and health curriculum to target populations of hazardous waste workers and emergency responders.


Worker Training Program

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) supports the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response. This program encourages innovation for training difficult-to-reach populations by addressing issues such as literacy, appropriate adult education techniques, and training quality improvement.

The Western Region Universities Consortium (WRUC) consists of four university-based programs located in the Western United States. WRUC provides training courses targeted to cleanup site workers, state and county emergency response personnel, hazardous waste and hazardous materials transportation personnel, and waste site assessment workers. Consortium members collaborate with community-based and tribal organizations to provide training for underrepresented minorities, non-English speakers, those who are geographically isolated and/or with limited literacy skills.

WRUC Consortium Members:
Arizona State University
UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program
University of California at Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program
University of Washington/Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety

The University of Washington’s NIEHS WTP participates in the three following programs:

  1. Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program This program provides occupational safety and health training for workers who are or may be engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal, containment or chemical emergency response.
  2. Environmental Careers Worker Training Program This program is focused on delivering comprehensive training to disadvantaged inner city young adults in order to prepare them for employment in the fields of environmental restoration and hazardous materials.
  3. Hazmat Disaster Preparedness Training Program This program will enhance the safety and health training of current hazardous materials workers and chemical responders, to train skilled response personnel, to create materials and deliver training to weapons of mass destruction response workers and to augment prevention and preparedness efforts in a wide variety of high risk settings.

The University of Washington NIEHS WTP also participates in the Washington State Building and Construction Trades King County Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) Program by providing health and safety training to PACE students. PACE is a construction training program focused on preparing people for the construction trade apprenticeship programs and high paying careers in the construction industry. PACE is run by an experienced and committed team with strong ties to the union construction apprenticeships. The training focuses on student success and meeting the workforce standards of the industry. PACE is part of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents over 70,000 union construction workers in Washington State.

PACE students participate in an 11-week intensive training during which they are prepared for an apprenticeship by learning about safe hand and power tool use, fitness, blueprint reading, trades math, and job preparation. Students graduate PACE certified in flagging, First Aid/CPR, and forklift operations. They also complete 40-hour HAZWOPER certification and an OSHA 10-hr course for construction.

To learn more about the PACE Program contact the PACE Program Manager, Diane Davies at

View the DEOHS Environmental Health Story on PACE, "Investing in Those Most at Risk"

Project Duration

  • August 1, 2015 - July 31, 2020

Grant Numbers

  • U45 ES006173-24 (HWWTP, ECWTP, HDPTP)