Basic Principles of the Worker Protection Standard
In August 1992, the EPA revised the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) (40 CFR Part 170) for Agricultural Pesticides. The WPS is a federal regulation designed to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides. The WPS offers protections to approximately 2.5 million agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply pesticides) that work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments. The WPS represents a major strengthening of national efforts to safeguard the health of agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. Effective implementation of the WPS will substantially lower the risk of pesticide poisonings among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.
Summary of WPS Requirements
- Protection during applications
Applicators are prohibited from applying a pesticide in a way that will expose workers or other persons. Workers are excluded from areas while pesticides are being applied.
- Restricted-entry intervals
Restricted-entry intervals must be specified on all agricultural plant pesticide product labels.Workers are excluded from entering a pesticide treated area during the restricted entry interval, with only narrow exceptions.
- Information on Activity-Based Reentry Restrictions
In addition to the restricted-entry interval (REI) exceptions in the Worker Protection Standard, EPA on occasion considers label statements allowing reentry to perform specific tasks during the REI for products. Such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis after considering both risks and benefits associated with performing a particular task when a product is used on a specific crop.
The Agency has developed guidance for its risk managers on the topic and has actively sought input from stakeholders regarding the use of activity-based reentry restrictions. Pertinent material regarding the use of activity-based reentry restrictions on product labeling, is available from Regulations.gov, in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPP-2005-0079.
- Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment must be provided and maintained for handlers and early-entry workers.
- Notification of workers
Workers must be notified about treated areas so they may avoid inadvertent exposures.
- Decontamination supplies
Handlers and workers must have an ample supply of water, soap, and towels for routine washing and emergency decontamination.
- Emergency assistance
Transportation must be made available to a medical care facility if a worker or handler may have been poisoned or injured. Information must be provided about the pesticide to which the person may have been exposed.
- Pesticide safety training and safety posters
Training is required for all workers and handlers, and a pesticide safety poster must be displayed.
- Access to labeling and site specific information
Handlers and workers must be informed of pesticide label requirements. Central posting of recent pesticide applications is required.