Worker Protection Standard Reminder to Employers

Have you planned for the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) this spring? If you employ workers in your agricultural operation, you probably know about this Standard that went into effect January of 1995. Written by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the WPS is designed to protect agricultural workers from pesticide exposure. You are required to comply if you use general or restricted-use pesticides and have employees that work in any aspect of crop production at a farm, forest, nursery or greenhouse.

When must I follow the WPS?
Check the "Directions for Use" section on each pesticide label for the WPS statement in the Agricultural Use Requirements box. The label statement will include information about the personal protective equipment required during application, restricted entry interval and whether posting is required. For the complete details about the standard refer to EPA's How to Comply manual (see order form reference PAT-12).

How does the WPS apply to growers?
Growers and their immediate families are exempt form many WPS requirements but must follow pesticide label directions and provide label information to people contracted for services, such as crop consultants or other pesticide applicators (outside of your business or family). If your workers are nonfamily members, you must follow additional WPS requirements, such as pesticide safety training, information at a central location and clean-up areas for employees.

Has the WPS changed since it went into effect?
The EPA made five revisions to the Standard last year. These five revisions are summarized in the supplement EPA: Worker Protection Standard Program Update- Five Amendments (see reference PAT-12a on the order form).

Briefly these changes are:

  1. Shorter restricted entry interval for certain low-risk pesticides (reduced to four hours, noted on the label).
  2. Employers given five days to provide complete WPS safety training and they must give workers basic pesticide safety instructions before entering a treated area.
  3. Certified or licensed crop advisors can enter treated areas if they have approved safety training.
  4. Workers are allowed to enter pesticide-treated areas during the restricted entry interval to perform certain "limited contact" activities. They must be provided personal protective equipment listed on the label and entry is limited to certain times after application.
  5. Irrigation workers also allowed early entry during restricted entry interval to perform certain "limited contact activities." They must be provided personal protective equipment listed on the label and entry is limited to certain times after application.

Where can I get more WPS information?WPS publications, including worker and handler training manuals, are available free to Iowa residents simply by ordering them from ISU's Extension Distribution Center. An order form is available in Adobe PDF format.

This article originally appeared in the May 17, 1996 issue, pp. 82-83.


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