Worker Protection Standards

Worker Protection Standards

Changes to coming to Worker Protection Standards

Late last year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) regulations, which govern training and activities related to regulated pesticides. The rule revision process began in March of 2014 when the EPA first released proposed changes to the WPS. Many organizations like the Arizona Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau, as well as individual growers, filed comments addressing concerns about the proposal in August of 2014. Although some elements of the proposal were revised to address industry concerns, many were not. Consequently growers using pesticides on their operation will have to make some changes to how they implement WPS in the next couple of years. Compliance with most of the new WPS components go into effect in January 2017. Some elements, such as training content and pesticide safety information displays, will not go into effect until January 2018, as EPA develops those materials.

Some of the new requirements are listed below.* A more expansive list of new requirements is available at the link below.

Requirement

New Worker Protection Standard (January 2017)

Frequency of full training for workers and handlers

Annual training.

Training grace period for worker training

No grace period. Workers must be trained before they work in an area where a pesticide has been used or a restricted-entry interval has been in effect in the past 30 days.

Expand training content for workers and handlers

Keep existing and expand content. Final worker training topics expanded to 23 items and handler training expanded to 36 items. Training on new content not required until January 2018.

Minimum age for handlers and early-entry workers

Handlers and early-entry workers must be at least 18 years old.

Respirators

Employer must provide respirator and fit testing, training, and medical evaluation that conforms to OSHA standards for any handler required to wear any respirator by the labeling. Requires recordkeeping of completion of fit test, training, and medical evaluation.

Handler (applicator) must suspend application in certain circumstances.

Handler must apply pesticides so as not to contact workers or other persons. Handler must suspend application if a worker or other person is in the application exclusion zone, an area up to 100 feet around the application equipment.

*Adapted from the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s The New Federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS).

The Arizona Department of Agriculture, through its Environmental Services Division and Agricultural Consultation and Training Program, has already begun to review the changes coming to the WPS with pesticide applicators and pest control advisors through annual recertification and training courses. Growers can also obtain pesticide safety training information, assistance with developing pesticide information resources, and mock inspections to assist in complying with the new pesticide regulations through the Agricultural Consultation and Training Program by contacting Jennifer Weber at (602)542-0985 or  jweber@azda.gov .

For additional information contact Ana Kennedy Otto at (480)635-3614 or anakennedy@azfb.org.

Worker Protection Standard Comparison Chart