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On November 2, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published updates and revisions to the existing Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations for pesticides. This final rule was designed to enhance the protections provided to agricultural workers, pesticide handlers, and other persons under the WPS. Some of the changes to the existing regulations include training, notification, pesticide safety and hazard communication information, use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the providing of supplies for routine washing and emergency decontamination.
Agricultural employers and hander employers will be required to comply with most of the new requirements on January 2, 2017 and with certain new requirements on January 1, 2018.
For more information regarding these changes access the EPA website at: www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety
The following information applies to the current standard and will continue to apply toward WPS activities for the remainder of 2016.
EPA Worker Protection Standard
Farm Worker Protection Education
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation, which was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 21, 1992. It covers pesticides that are used in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. The WPS requires you to take steps to reduce the risk of pesticide-related illness and injury if you use such pesticides, or employ workers or pesticide handlers who are exposed to such pesticides.
If you are an agricultural pesticide user and/or an employer of agricultural workers or pesticide handlers, the WPS requires you to provide to your employees and, in some cases, to yourself and to others:
- Information about exposure to pesticides,
- Protection against exposures to pesticides, and
- Ways to mitigate exposures to pesticides.
To ensure that employees will be informed about exposure to pesticides, the WPS requires:
- Pesticide safety training – for workers and handlers;
- Pesticide safety poster – to be displayed for workers and handlers;
- Access to labeling information – for pesticide handlers and early-entry workers; and,
- Access to specific information – a centrally located Application List of pesticide treatments on the establishment.
To ensure that employees will be protected from exposures to pesticides, the WPS requires employers to:
- Prohibit handlers from applying a pesticide in a way that will expose workers or other persons;
- Exclude workers from areas being treated with pesticides;
- Exclude workers from areas that remain under a restricted-entry interval (REI), with narrow exceptions;
- Protect early-entry workers who are doing permitted tasks in treated areas during an REI – requirements include special instructions and duties related to correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Notify workers about treated areas so they can avoid inadvertent exposure; and,
- Protect handlers during handling tasks – requirements include monitoring while handling highly toxic pesticides and duties related to correct use of PPE.
To mitigate pesticide exposures that employees receive, the WPS requires:
- Decontamination sites – providing handlers and workers with an ample supply of water, soap and towels for routine washing and emergency decontamination; and,
- Emergency assistance – making transportation available to a medical care facility if any agricultural worker or handler may have been poisoned or injured by a pesticide and providing information about the pesticide(s) to which the person may have been exposed.
For more information concerning the Worker Protection Standard contact:
- Luis Urias, Agricultural Program Specialist (208) 332-8663
- Chuck Hawley, Agriculture Investigator, SR. (208) 762-9586
Idaho State Department of Agriculture
PO Box 790
Boise, ID 83701