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National Assessment of the Worker Protection Workshop #3

The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation and EPA held Workshop #3 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, July 30-August 1, 2001. Approximately 250 participants from the grower, worker and medical communities joined federal and state regulatory agencies to discuss improvements to pesticide safety training, enforcement, communications, hazard communication to workers, and the integration of EPA's pesticide worker safety programs. Participants produced concrete recommendations and agreed to participate in partnership pilot projects. EPA has formed workgroups focusing on various pilot efforts.

Improving Hazard Communications to Workers

Participants agreed that greater effort should be made to clearly communicate pesticide hazards to the millions of agricultural workers. A pilot project has commenced to identify the appropriate information and the means to communicate it to a multilingual workforce. The primary goal of the Hazard Communication/Right-to-Know pilot is to determine the most effective mechanisms for delivering this type of information to agricultural workers in a way that is compatible with the variability in current production agriculture practices, and that can be integrated with other existing WPS requirements. The secondary goal is to generate the information EPA needs to develop and implement a final, workable regulation. For information on this pilot project, contact the Certification & Worker Protection Branch at 703-305-7666.

Improving Pesticide Safety Training

EPA has formed a Training Workgroup composed of selected experienced individuals representing an array of worker safety stakeholders. These individuals are working in two separate subgroups to develop and implement a national train-the-trainer pilot and generate a set of recommendations to improve the basic WPS training provided to workers and handlers. The national train-the-trainer pilot group will outline the pilot goals, list incentives EPA may use to encourage pilot participation, develop a simple method to measure pilot effectiveness and trainer competency, and develop a pilot curriculum. The general training issues group will review the content of WPS training and assist EPA in extracting valuable observations and recommendations from the Workshops held to date. For information on the national train-the-trainer pilot project or on follow-up activities concerning pesticide safety training issues, contact the Certification & Worker Protection Branch at 703-305-7666.

Creating a Hotline for WPS Information and Enforcement &Training Inspectors

Participants from all stakeholder interests will initiate two pilot activities that will strengthen compliance and enforcement programs in states. These will include a complaint and education hotline for workers and growers, as well as additional training for state pesticide inspectors. The training will provide inspectors with improved skills for conducting interviews with a multi-cultural, multi-lingual workforce. For information on follow-up activities, contact the Certification & Worker Protection Branch at 703-305-7666.

Improving Overall Communications

The general communication workgroup is focusing on developing a communications networking system with those entities (federal, state, local, nongovernmental organizations and/or associations) who service agricultural workers in the agricultural community. For follow-up activities on this topic, contact the Certification & Worker Protection Branch at 703-305-7666.

Creating an Integrated Pesticide Worker Safety Program

Workshop participants urged EPA to increase the integration of its worker safety programs: worker protection, certification and training of pesticide applicators, and training of health care providers. The proposal is for an over-arching pesticide worker safety program. Such a program would form regulatory grouping of like labor types with similar health and safety concerns. This restructuring will create a tighter focus on migrant and seasonal labor, while grouping mixers, loaders, handlers, crop consultants, and aerial applicators with pesticide applicators in a restructured certification and training program. EPA is considering the pros and cons of this suggestion. For more information on the integration of programs, contact the Certification and Worker Protection Branch at 703-305-7666.

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