Pesticide Worker Safety

Coverage and Duties under the Worker Protection Standard

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Who is protected by the worker protection standard?

The WPS protects employees on farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides and covers two types of employees:

  • Pesticide handlers: those who:
    • mix, load or apply agricultural pesticides;
    • clean or repair pesticide application equipment; or
    • assist with the application of pesticides.
  • Agricultural workers: those who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries or forests.
  • Workers include anyone employed for any type of compensation (including self-employed) doing tasks such as:
    • carrying nursery stock;
    • repotting plants;
    • watering; or
    • other tasks directly related to the production of agricultural plants on an agricultural establishment.
  • Workers do NOT include employees such as:
    • office employees;
    • truck drivers;
    • mechanic; and
    • any other workers not engaged in worker/handler activities.

Some requirements apply to anyone doing certain tasks, such as handling pesticide application equipment or cleaning or laundering pesticide-contaminated personal protective equipment.

What exceptions are there from the WPS?

Who is responsible for complying with the WPS?

In general, employers are responsible for WPS compliance. These include:

  • Owners/employers on agricultural establishments that grow and harvest for commercial production:
    • Fruits and vegetables on farms.
    • Timber and trees in forests and nurseries.
    • Plants in greenhouses and nurseries.
  • Employers of researchers who help grow and harvest plants.
  • Employers at commercial pesticide handling establishments.

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What duties do the employers have?

Duties for ALL Employers

  • Do not retaliate against a worker or handler.
  • Provide information at a central location (agricultural employers only).
  • Provide pesticide safety training.
  • Provide decontamination supplies.
  • Exchange information (between a commercial handler employer and an operator of an agricultural establishment).
  • Provide emergency assistance.

Additional Duties for Employers of Workers

  • Implement restrictions during applications by keeping workers and other people out of the treated field and application exclusion zones.
  • Implement restricted-entry intervals (REIs).
  • Implement protections for early entry by workers.
  • Notify workers about applications and pesticide-treated areas and not to enter during the REI by:
    • providing oral warnings; or
    • posting warning signs.

Additional Duties for Employers of Handlers

  • Implement restrictions during applications by ensuring that pesticides applied do not contact workers or other people.  Also, after January 2, 2018, handlers must suspend an application if workers or other people are in the application exclusion zone.
  • Monitor handlers working with toxic pesticides.
  • Provide specific instructions for handlers.
  • Take steps to ensure equipment safety.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Provide the required PPE in clean and good operating condition.
    • Ensure the PPE is worn correctly.
    • Provide a clean place for storing personal clothing and removing PPE.
    • Care for, maintain, and replace damaged or worn PPE.
    • Replace respirator purifying elements.
    • Dispose of contaminated PPE.
    • Provide instructions for people who clean PPE.
  • Provide a medical evaluation, fit test and respirator training to handlers required to wear a respirator by the pesticide label.

Where can I get more details about the WPS?

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