TWIN FALLS, Idaho — It won’t be long until farmers are back in their fields preparing for the next growing season, and it’s a good time to get up to speed on changes to Environmental Protection Agency’s Worker Protection Standard for pesticides.
A lot of concerns and misunderstandings about WPS led EPA to revise the entire program in 2015 to reduce the risk of exposure or injury to workers, Luis Urias, program specialist with Idaho State Department of Agriculture, said during this year’s Agri-Action.
“There are so many changes now, the biggest one is recordkeeping,” he said.
Agricultural employers must display pesticide safety, application and hazard information in a central location for 30 days after the restricted-entry interval at an application site expires and keep them on records for two years, he said.
That information includes an EPA WPS poster, a safety data sheet and application information — including the product name, EPA registration number and active ingredient; crop or site treated, location and description of treated area; and date, start and end times of the application and duration of the restricted-entry interval.
In addition, workers and pesticide handlers must be trained in pesticide safety and those records must also be maintained for two years, he said.
Workers must be trained at least once every 12 months and receive additional training if they enter a restricted area before the restricted interval expires.
Handlers must have been trained within the last 30 days before any handling tasks. Anyone who cleans or repairs pesticide application equipment, including mechanics, and anyone who transports an open pesticide container are considered a handler, he said.
He recommended employers train all their employees as handlers.
Employers must also provide accessible decontamination supplies within a quarter mile of the application.
Those supplies must include at least 1 gallon of water for workers and 3 gallons of water for handlers. Additional water for eye flushing must be provided when a product requires protective eyewear or when handlers are using a closed, pressurized system.
Employers must also provide soap, single-use towels, personal protection equipment and a clean change of clothes.
They are also required to provide emergency assistance on location and up to 72 hours after a possible exposure. They are required to provide medical personnel with the pesticide’s safety data sheet, product name, EPA registration number, active ingredient, how the pesticide was used and circumstances that could have resulted in exposure.
One big change in WPS is the respirator requirements, which require the use of the respirator listed on the pesticide label. Applicators applying chemical from inside the truck cab must wear a respirator, and anyone needing to use a respirator must first receive medical clearance, a fit test and training.
Employers must also maintain contact every two hours with anyone using a highly toxic, skull and crossbones product, he said.