Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides
Part 2, Section 1: Pest Management
Using Pesticides Safely
Worker Protection Standard for agricultural pesticides
In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which addresses the protection of agricultural workers from pesticide exposure (40 CFR Part 170). The WPS includes requirements designed to reduce the risks of illness or injury to agricultural workers and pesticide handlers from occupational or accidental exposure to pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on farms and in nurseries, greenhouses, and forests.
The WPS expands the scope of prior worker protection regulations to identify two types of agricultural employees:
- pesticide handlers—those who handle agricultural pesticides (mix, load, apply, clean or repair contaminated equipment, act as flaggers, etc.) and
- agricultural workers—those who perform tasks related to the cultivation and harvesting of plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries, or forests where pesticides are used.
The WPS holds growers/ employers responsible for compliance. The regulations expand requirements for the employer to make sure that employees are provided with the following:
- warnings about pesticide applications
- clean and properly maintained personal protective equipment (PPE), which employers must ensure is used
- restrictions on reentry by personnel to treated areas (all pesticides used on farms and in forests, nurseries, and greenhouses have specific restricted entry intervals (REIs) that are listed on the label under the “Agricultural Use Requirements” section)
- decontamination facilities
- pesticide safety training and information
- notification of pesticide applications and information about the pesticide(s) used
- maintained contact with handlers when applying highly toxic pesticides
- emergency assistance when required
- a pesticide safety poster placed in an area where it can be seen easily by all workers and handlers
- information for pesticide handlers and early-entry workers about pesticide label safety information
- a centrally located listing of recent pesticide applications on the premises
Under WPS, labels now include statements specifying personal protective equipment, restricted-entry intervals (REIs), and (on some pesticide labels) a requirement to provide both oral warnings and posting of treated areas.
The EPA developed these regulations with the non-english-speaking worker specifically in mind. Safety warnings, information, and training must be given in “a manner of worker can understand.”
The Pesticide Safety Fact Sheet EPA Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides describes these requirements in some detail. It is available for the Publications Distribution Center, The Pennsylvania State University, 112 Agricultural Administration Building, University Park, PA 16802; phone 814-865-6713, or online at www.pested.psu.edu/resources/facts/.