Pesticide handling requirements under the WPS
Monitoring pesticide handlers is the responsibility of the employer when certain pesticides (those labeled Danger-Poison) or application methods (fumigants in a greenhouse) are used.
Protecting others during application is a must. Handlers are prohibited from applying a pesticide in a way that will expose workers or other persons. Workers are excluded from areas while pesticides are being applied. The employer must provide oral and written warnings to workers in a manner that the workers can understand.
Information exchange about treated areas is the responsibility of the employer. Commercial applicators must ensure the employer of the agricultural establishment (farm, forest, nursery or greenhouse) knows certain information about the pesticide before it is applied, and agricultural employers must ensure commercial applicators and crop advisors know specific information concerning treated areas, in order to protect each other’s employees from pesticides.
Posted “treated area” warning signs must be visible from all usual points of worker entry. If there are no usual entry points, signs must be posted in the corners of the treated area or a location affording maximum visibility. The WPS defines content, size, location and time span for posted warning signs.
Restricted-entry intervals (REI) on the pesticide label specify the time interval when workers cannot enter a treated area, with few exceptions. The REI must be enforced by the employer.
Central posting is required for certain information, including a safety poster with WPS-specified information, emergency medical information and a 30-day listing of pesticide applications after either the expiration of the REI or after the application (if no REI exists). The information must be displayed in one or more central locations on the agricultural establishment, easily accessible to workers and handlers without their having to request it.
Decontamination supplies must be made available by the employer. Workers and handlers must have an ample supply of water, soap and towels within a quarter of a mile of the work site for routine washing, and at least one pint of water immediately available to early-entry workers and handlers for eye flushing when the pesticide requires protective eyewear.
Emergency assistance in case of an accidental exposure is required. The employer must provide immediate transportation to a medical care facility and specific information about the pesticide. The name, address and telephone number of the nearest emergency medical care facility must be on the safety poster or displayed close to it, in a central location where it can be readily seen and read by workers and handlers.
“In most cases, state departments of agriculture are responsible for WPS implementation and compliance monitoring,” notes Borges. “However, it is the employer who has the central role in ensuring that workers and handlers are protected from possible pesticide exposure and injury.”
Some Key Resources Concerning the Worker Protection Standard:
- http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/twor.html Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Worker Protection Standard
- http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/factsheets/index.html EPA Worker Protection Standard Fact Sheets
- http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/htc.html How to Comply With the Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides: What Employers Need To Know