10 Things You Need to Know About the New Worker Protection Standard
As of Jan. 2, 2018, greenhouse growers needed to be compliant with the three new requirements for the updated Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The new requirements have generated a number of questions from all types of agricultural businesses.
To help growers navigate through some of their concerns involving the new standard, experts at Michigan State University (MSU) Extension have developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers on the WPS. The two-part resource is focused on general questions about the new standard, as well as new respirator requirements.
Part 1 of MSU’s FAQ guide covers the following topics:
• What is the WPS?
• Why does the WPS exist?
• Is the WPS a federal or state mandate?
• What changed with WPS in January 2018?
• Who is covered by the WPS?
• What is the difference between a worker and a handler with regards to WPS?
• Who enforces the WPS?
• What does a WPS inspection entail?
• What are the updated posters that employers need?
Part 2 of the WPS guide specifically addresses new respirator requirements. Of note in this report is that under the WPS requirements that went into effect in 2017, employers must “provide the handler with a free medical evaluation, fit testing, and respirator training in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Respiratory Protection Standard.” In addition, employers are required to keep records of the medical evaluations, completed fit tests, and employee training for a minimum of two years.
The employer must also pay for or provide a respiratory medical evaluation for employees applying pesticides requiring the use of a respirator. In the greenhouse, most pesticide handlers are also applicators. This may not be true in other areas of agriculture. For pesticide applicators, the respiratory medical evaluation needs to occur prior to using the respirator for the first time and if any significant health changes occur, or if job duties or the working conditions change in ways that put more stress on the wearer.