Your journey begins when you plan to use pesticides with this statement on the label. You must follow the requirements of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). This map gives you a quick route to understanding compliance.
This publication does not replace the “How to Comply Manual” which provides detailed information to help you comply with WPS. This is a simplified tool that can quickly guide farm managers, handlers, workers, and family farmers.
1. Inspection Station
First, it is important to know your responsibilities:
An owner or manager who employs workers and/or handlers. This includes family-owned farms that hire non-family agricultural labor.
The kinds of tasks your employees do, within 30 days of a pesticide application, will determine whether you have workers, handlers, or both. Someone may be a worker while completing one task and a handler while completing a different task.
Handlers are paid to mix, load, transfer, or apply pesticides, or to do other tasks that bring them into direct contact with pesticides.
Workers are paid to do tasks involved in the
production of agricultural plants such as planting, harvesting, weeding, re-potting, pruning, or watering. Workers do not apply pesticides or handle the equipment used to apply pesticides. This group includes the “early-entry worker,” a fully-trained and equipped worker who is able to perform limited tasks before the restricted-entry interval (REI) expires. Early entry within the first 4 hours after a pesticide application is prohibited.
The farm is majority-owned and operated (NOT rented or leased to outsiders) by one or more members of the same immediate family. If qualified, the family farmer is exempt from most WPS requirements that pertain to immediate family members. See Family Reunion for more information.
2. Which Way Cafe
You have two great resources that can help you:
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension
- North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS)
There are a number of requirements for different categories:
- Pesticide safety training
- Central posting of information
- PPE and decontamination supplies
- Record keeping of pesticide
- Emergency assistance provisions
- Establishment-specific information
- Employer information exchange
- Retaliation prohibition policies
- Communication with farm-servicing
For all the general responsibilities for agricultural employers, see page 20 of the How to Comply with the 2015 Revised Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides – What Owners and Employers Need to Know manual for details.
To purchase a printed copy, visit the National Pesticide Safety Education Center website.
3. WPS Learning Center
Pesticide safety training is an absolute must.
All handlers and workers MUST be trained before they perform any worker or handler task on the establishment (except as listed for in the exemptions) and they must complete the training every 12 months thereafter.
The key requirements for WPS training:
- There is no grace period for WPS training. The farm manager must ensure that the WPS training is completed within the last 12 months before:
- Any worker enters a treated area where a WPS-labeled pesticide was used within the last 30 days, or an REI for such pesticide has been in effect.
- Any handler conducts any handling task.
- Workers and handlers are exempt from the WPS training
if they are currently:
- Certified as an applicator of restricted-use pesticides.
- Certified as a crop advisor by a program acknowledged as appropriate in writing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or a state or tribal agency responsible for pesticide enforcement.
- Identified as a worker who completed the WPS handler training within the previous 12 months.
- Use only qualified trainers for the WPS training.
- Train workers and handlers annually.
- Provide training that can be understood, and use a translator when necessary.
- Present training with EPA-approved materials.
- Keep records of worker/handler training for two years.
- Make training records available to employees on request.
4. Central Sign Shop
Pick up the signage and materials you need to successfully create your central posting. All farm managers must display the following information at a central location — a place that is accessible at all times during normal work hours — and at decontamination sites. The information must be displayed at the central site within 24 hrs of an application and remain posted for 30 days after the REI has expired.
The three — “central posting” — requirements are:
- Pesticide safety information poster, OR display the information in an equivalent written document (see page 23 of the How to Comply manual).
- Pesticide application information
Pesticide name, active ingredient(s), EPA registration number, REI, crop or site treated, location and description of treated area(s), application start and end dates and times (See Farm Journal and Application Log).
- Hazard information
OSHA safety data sheet (SDS) for each pesticide.
5. Farm Journal and Application Log
As a farm manager, you must keep a record of all pesticides applied and the SDS for each pesticide applied for two years from the expiration date of the REI of the pesticides that were applied.
- Pesticide records must contain:
- Pesticide name
- Active ingredient(s)
- EPA registration number
- Crop or site treated
- Field ID/Location
- Application start & end dates and times
- Hazard information includes of a copy of the OSHA safety data sheet (SDS) for each pesticide product. Records may be provided to the following individuals by request:
- Workers and handlers
- An employee of EPA or an NCDA&CS pesticide inspector
- Medical personnel involved in treatment
- A representative designated by a worker or handler
Farm managers are subject to civil and criminal penalties if they do not comply with the WPS. Owners and employers are also liable for all other individuals employed by or acting for them who fail to comply.
6. PPE Farm Supply
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is specific to the pesticide product you are using. Handlers and workers may have different requirements as specified on the label.
The PPE that is required by the pesticide product labeling must be provided by the handler’s employer. The PPE must be clean and in proper working condition. Standard work attire does not have to be provided by the employer even if required.
Handlers are individually responsible for following the pesticide labeling directions and wearing the clothing and PPE required by the pesticide product labeling. The use of any pesticide product must be consistent with the label directions or it is a violation of federal law.
In most cases, the workers who will require PPE are the early-entry workers. It is the farm manager’s responsibility to provide each early-entry worker with the PPE specified in the pesticide product labeling for early entry and to ensure that the early-entry worker uses the PPE according to the manufacturer’s instructions and follows any other applicable requirements on the pesticide product labeling. Details are listed on page 53 of the How to Comply manual.
The correct respirator specified by the label must be used whenever the pesticide product labeling requires that a respirator be worn. Prior to using a respirator, the farm manager must provide the handler with:
- Medical evaluation,
- Annual fit testing, and
- Annual respirator training
7. “DECON” and Wash Sites
Here is where you check on your decontamination supplies for workers and handlers. The farm manager is required to provide supplies for each worker (including early-entry workers) and handler for routine washing to remove pesticide residues, emergency decontamination, and immediate eye flushing as described below. Decontamination supplies for early-entry workers are similar to those for handlers.
- Decontamination supplies, as listed below, must be located within 1/4 mile of all workers and handlers who have worked where a pesticide was used within the past 30 days.
- 1 gallon of water per worker and 3 gallons of water per handler at the beginning of each work period for routine and emergency decontamination.
- Plenty of soap and single-use towels. Note: hand sanitizers and wet towelettes are insufficient.
- A clean coverall (or other clean change of clothes) for handlers.
- Provide water that is safe and cool enough for washing, eye-flushing, and drinking. Do not use water that is also used for mixing pesticides unless steps have been taken to ensure safety.
- Provide handlers with decontamination supplies where PPE is removed at the end of a task.
- Provide handlers with decontamination supplies at each mixing and loading site.
- When a product requires protective eyewear for handlers, and/or when using a closed system under pressure, provide the following in the mixing and loading areas: an eye-flushing system that can deliver gently running water at 0.4 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes, or 6 gallons of water in containers suitable for providing a gentle eye-flush for about 15 minutes.
- When applying a product that requires protective eyewear, provide 1 pint of water per handler in portable containers that are immediately available to each handler.
- Do not put decontamination supplies for workers in areas being treated or under an REI.
- For handlers, decontamination supplies must be kept outside the treated area, or any area under an REI, unless they are protected from contamination in closed containers.
8. Quick Care Transit
The farm manager must provide transportation and emergency information promptly for their workers. Your motto should be, “Be Prepared.” Have working transportation available.
Knowing what to do and how you will do it ahead of time can make a world of difference.
Provide emergency transportation
- If there is reason to believe that a worker or handler experienced a potential pesticide exposure during his or her employment on their employer’s agricultural establishment, or
- The worker shows symptoms similar to those associated with acute exposure to pesticides during or within 72 hours after his or her employment in the agricultural establishment and needs emergency medical treatment.
Provide emergency information for the emergency medical personnel
- Copies of the applicable SDS, the pesticide product name, EPA registration number, and active ingredient(s) for each pesticide product to which the person may have been exposed.
- Type of application or how the pesticide was used on the agricultural establishment.
- The circumstances that may have resulted in exposure to the pesticide.
9. Field Orientation
As a farm manager, you must provide information specific to your farm to workers and handlers when they first enter the area and before beginning WPS tasks in areas where, within the last 30 days, a WPS-labeled pesticide product has been applied or an REI for such pesticide has been in effect.
Inform workers and handlers with the location of:
- Pesticide safety information
- Pesticide application and hazard information
- Decontamination supplies
- This farm-specific information must be provided even if the worker or handler has already completed the annual pesticide safety training on another agricultural establishment.
10. Family Reunion
Immediate family members include spouse, parents, stepparents, foster parents, children, stepchildren, foster children, brothers, sisters, in-laws (mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter), grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins.
The EPA expects managers to protect the health of their family members who work in a family operation. Therefore, the WPS exempts owners of agricultural establishments and members of their immediate family from certain requirements.
It is important to note that:
- No agricultural establishments that use WPS-labeled pesticide products are completely exempt from the WPS requirements.
- Owners/agricultural employers must provide full WPS protections for workers and handlers who are not members of the owners’ immediate families, and
- Owners and their immediate family members that qualify for the exemption must comply with some WPS requirements.
Reading the WPS Road Map gives you a good overview for successful compliance, but there is one more thing…
Your journey ends with a safer operation and less down time. When your establishment is in compliance, you have protected yourself, protected your workers, and protected your profits.
WPS Success Checklist
- Central posting with safety poster
- Pesticide application records — 2 years
- Safety data sheets (SDS) — 2 years
- Required info displayed before entry/within 24 hrs of application
- Required info displayed at least 30 days after REI has expired
- Workers and handlers trained (in past 12 months)
- EPA approved training material used
- Trainer qualified to train workers/handlers
- Safety training records complete and retained for 2 years
- Emergency assistance provided to workers/handlers
- Pesticide product info provided to medical personnel
- Decontamination supplies within 1/4 mile
- Workers notified of applications
- Warning signs used if required — language/size/placement
- Applications made with no contact or drift to others
- Workers kept out of treated area during REI except early entry workers
- Workers and others kept out of application exclusion zone
- PPE provided for early-entry handlers and workers
- PPE in proper operating condition and inspected before use
- PPE in pesticide free area for storage and to change
- Contaminated PPE disposed of properly
- Measures taken to prevent heat related illness (see page 65 in the How to Comply manual)
Publication date: Oct. 4, 2022
There is an alternate Spanish language version of this document here: Mapa de la Ley de Protección al Trabajador para Pesticidias Agrícolas
Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by NC State University or N.C. A&T State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.
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