The new 2015 Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rules are scheduled to go into full effect on Jan. 1, 2018. This article is a quick summary of what you can expect. For complete information and to learn who is covered under the WPS, download the “How to Comply” manual.
Does the WPS Apply to You?
The WPS applies wherever agricultural plants are grown or maintained if an agricultural-use pesticide is used. That includes many organic pesticides. WPS may also apply in retail establishments where pesticides are used on commercial plants. If the pesticide label says “Agricultural-Use Requirements” then the WPS applies. There are some exemptions for the immediate family members of establishment owners, but some of the rules still apply.
Who Is Covered?
Workers are covered if they work treated areas within 30 days of a pesticide application or within 30 days of the end of the pesticide’s Restricted-Entry Interval (REI). If one area of a greenhouse is treated, the whole room is considered the treated area, unless it’s walled-off somehow. These workers may never handle pesticides, but they may be exposed to pesticides when working with/near treated plants.
Pesticide handlers are also covered. A pesticide handler is anyone who makes applications, handles open pesticide containers, and/or works on application equipment. Pesticide handlers must be at least 18 years old under the new rules.
Annual WPS Training
• Greenhouse workers and pesticide handlers must receive annual training before they begin work that might expose them to pesticides. There is no grace period. WPS training materials must have an EPA approval number. Look for approved training materials at http://pesticideresources.org. Employers must keep training records for each worker/handler for two years.
• WPS trainers must have a current pesticide applicator’s license (any type) or complete an EPA-approved Train-the-Trainer course. Employers must keep training records for each worker/handler for two years.
Central Posting Area
• A new WPS safety poster provides more information about protecting family members from take-home pesticide residue. This poster must also be displayed at permanent decontamination sites. Soap, water, and single-use towels must be provided at these sites, as well. The poster is available at https://goo.gl/DyrDyu.
• Pesticide application records and all associated safety data sheets (SDS) must be posted, or made available with unrestricted access during working hours, within 24 hours of the application, and for 30 days afterward. Keep records for two years.
Posted Warning Signs
• Verbally warn workers and post the treated area(s) if required by the pesticide labeling.
• If the label is silent about posting, posted warning signs are required when the Restricted-Entry Interval (REI) is greater than four hours (for indoor production) or greater than 48 hours (for outdoor production). For all other applications, you can warn workers verbally or with posted signs.
• Place signs at all expected entrances. Place the signs before the application and take them down after the REI expires. If the signs are visible, worker entry is not allowed.
When Respirators Are Required by Pesticide Labels
• Before a pesticide handler is allowed to use a respirator, they must be medically evaluated, fit-tested, and trained. Fit-testing and training must be performed annually. The employer must keep records for two years.
• Change filters, cartridges, and canisters after eight hours of use, if not sooner.
• For more information about these requirements, visit https://goo.gl/JG4Ztz.
Gloves, Goggles, Coveralls, and Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
• Employers must provide handlers with PPE required by the pesticide labeling that is clean and in proper working condition.
• Provide a pesticide-free area for putting on clean PPE. Do not allow dirty PPE to be taken home.
Don’t Spray People
The Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) is a new requirement about keeping people away from outdoor pesticide applications while they are in progress. The size of the AEZ depends on spray quality and the type of application. Contacting people with pesticides through a direct application or through drift is always against the law.
Learn more about these and other new requirements at http://pesticideresources.org.