Pesticide Worker Safety

Definition of a Pesticide Handler under the Worker Protection Standard

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Who is a handler?

You are a pesticide handler if you:

  • Are employed (including self-employed) for any type of compensation by an agricultural establishment or a commercial pesticide handling establishment that uses pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on a farm, forest, nursery or greenhouse; and
  • Are doing any of the following tasks:
    • Mixing, loading, transferring, or applying pesticides.
    • Handling opened containers of pesticides.
    • Acting as a flagger.
    • Cleaning, handling, adjusting, or repairing the parts of mixing, loading, or application equipment that may contain pesticide residues.
    • Assisting with the application of pesticides, including incorporating the pesticide into the soil after the application has occurred.
    • Entering a greenhouse or other enclosed area after application and before the inhalation exposure level listed on the product labeling has been reached or one of the worker protection standard (WPS) ventilation criteria has been met to:
      • operate ventilation equipment;
      • adjust or remove coverings, such as tarps, used in fumigation; or
      • check air concentration levels, entering a treated area outdoors after application of any soil fumigant to adjust or remove soil coverings, such as tarpaulins.
    • Performing tasks as a crop advisor during any pesticide application, and before any inhalation exposure level or ventilation criteria listed in the labeling has been reached or one of the WPS ventilation criteria has been met during any restricted-entry interval.
    • Disposing of pesticides or pesticide containers.

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Who is not a handler?

You are not a handler if:

  • You only handle pesticide containers that have been emptied or cleaned according to instructions on pesticide product labeling or, if the labeling has no such instructions, have been triple-rinsed or cleaned by an equivalent method, such as pressure rinsing.
  • You only handle pesticide containers that are unopened and you are not, at the same time, also doing any handling task (such as mixing or loading).


You are a handler if you are loading unopened water-soluble packets into a mixing tank because you are mixing and loading the pesticide.

You are not a handler if you:

  • Purchase pesticides and transport them unopened to an establishment.
  • Carry unopened containers into a pesticide storage facility.
  • Transport unopened containers to the site where they are to be mixed, loaded or applied.

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Certified Applicators

Handlers who are certified as applicators of restricted use pesticides must be given all of the WPS handler protections, except that they need not receive WPS pesticide safety training.

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