Protecting workers from potential effects of pesticides is an important role of EPA's Pesticide Program. Workers in several occupations may be exposed to pesticides by:
- Preparing pesticides for use, such as by mixing a concentrate with water or loading the pesticide into application equipment
- Applying pesticides, such as in an agricultural or commercial setting
- Entering an area where pesticides have been applied to perform allowed tasks, such as picking crops.
This Web page introduces the subsequent pages that describe tools and information EPA uses to reduce the potential risk to workers from pesticides.
- Pesticide producers must provide EPA extensive test data to demonstrate that pesticide products can be used without posing harm to human health and the environment. EPA scientists and analysts carefully review these data to determine whether to register a pesticide product or a use and whether specific restrictions are necessary. Risk to workers is part of this assessment.
- In order to increase health protection for workers potentially exposed to pesticides, children of workers in agricultural fields and others, and to advance environmental justice, EPA plans to begin using revised pesticide risk assessment approaches that provide more comprehensive and consistent evaluation of potential risks. For more information see Worker Risk Assessment Web page.
- The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is a collaborative effort between EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and several federal partners. This study is taking a closer look at the relationships between pesticide exposure and possible health effects to farmers and their families. EPA is using the findings from the study so that relevant new findings on pesticides are translated into sound regulatory policies and practice.
Worker Safety & Training
- Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a federal regulation designed to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides. Implementing the WPS is a key part of EPA’s strategy for reducing occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides.
- Worker training requirements under WPS mandate that employers must ensure that their employees understand the basic concepts of pesticide safety. Employees need to be trained by qualified trainers and must have the opportunity to ask questions during the training session.
- Certification and training regulations require that some restricted-use pesticides may be applied only by or under the direct supervision of specially trained and certified applicators. Certification and training programs are conducted by states, territories, and tribes in accordance with national standards.
Every pesticide licensed and introduced into the market before 1984 has been reevaluated, resulting in a Reregistration Eligibility Decision known as a RED. The goal of the reregistration program is to mitigate risks associated with the use of older pesticides while preserving their benefits. Pesticides that meet today's scientific and regulatory standards may be declared "eligible" for reregistration. In many cases, significant changes to increase protection for workers were made as part of the reregistration process.