President Clinton has signed a bill to delay the implementation of the general requirements of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) from April 15, 1994 to January 1, 1995. This delay allows more time for those who use pesticides in the production of agricultural plants (on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses) to learn about WPS and to prepare for its implementation.
However, as in the past, the label is the law and you are required to follow all of the label directions. If you use a pesticide and its label refers to the WPS, you must comply with the requirements that are stated on the new label. These new requirements concern personal protective equipment (PPE); the restricted entry interval (REI); specific PPE for early entry into fields by workers; and notification requirements for workers. Employers must provide all the required PPE to their employees who are handlers or workers. Workers may not enter fields during the pesticide application or the REI except under the conditions described below. If the label requires, workers must be orally notified about pesticide applications. If the pesticide label requires posting, fields must be posted during the REI only if workers will be within 1/4 mile of the treated field during the REI.
Handlers may enter treated fields anytime during the REI if they wear the PPE listed on the label for early entry. However, workers may not enter the field for the first four hours of the REI. Workers who enter the treated field after the first four hours but before the REI has expired must be provided with early entry PPE in clean and operating condition. In addition, workers may not perform hand labor during the REI.
All other requirements of the WPS, including safety training for pesticide handlers and safety training for agricultural workers are delayed. Crop Advisors are exempt from all WPS requirements until January 1, 1995.
Worker: An individual who is doing tasks related to agricultural plant production, such as harvesting, weeding, or watering.
Handler: An individual who uses pesticides in the production of agricultural plants. A handler mixes, loads, applies pesticides, handles open pesticide containers, acts as a flagger, cleans, handles, adjusts application equipment, or assists with the pesticide application (such as incorporating the pesticide into the soil after application).
Hand labor: Any agricultural activity performed by hand or with hand tools that causes a worker to have substantial contact with surfaces (such as plants or soil) that may contain pesticide residues. These activities include, but are not limited to, harvesting, detasseling, weeding, and planting. Hand labor does not include operating, moving or repairing irrigation or water equipment or performing the tasks of crop advisors.
Publications available: Several EPA publications are available at no charge from Extension Distribution. The Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides- How to Comply manual (PAT 12) details what employers need to know and it contains the complete Worker Protection Standard.
Protect Yourself from Pesticides: Guide for Agricultural Workers presents all of the information required for training of workers involved with agricultural plant production under the Worker Protection Standard. Ask for publication number PAT 16.
Protect Yourself from Pesticides: Guide for Pesticide Handlers contains all of the information required for training pesticide handlers. It is available as publication number PAT 17. Copies for Iowa residents may be ordered at no charge from Extension Distribution, 112 Printing and Publications Building, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, or phone 515-294-5247.
This article originally appeared in the April 13, 1994 issue, p. 47,48 & 50.