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Pesticide Worker Safety

Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Handlers

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Duties Related to Personal Protective Equipment

Handler employers must do all of the following:

  • Provide handlers with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in clean and operating condition.
  • Make sure the handlers wear the PPE correctly and use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure that any respirator used fits the handler correctly.
  • Inspect all PPE before each day of use for leaks, holes, tears, or worn places, and repair or discard any damaged equipment.
  • Provide handlers with clean places away from pesticide storage and pesticide use areas to:
    • Store personal clothing not in use.
    • Put on PPE at the start of any exposure period.
    • Take off PPE at the end of any exposure period.
  • Take any necessary steps to prevent heat illness (too much heat stress) while PPE is being worn.
  • Do not allow any handler to wear home or take home PPE contaminated with pesticides.

Cleaning and Maintaining PPE

Handler employers must do all of the following:

  • Keep pesticide-contaminated PPE away from other clothing or laundry and wash it separately.
  • If PPE will be reused, clean it before each day of reuse according to the instructions from the PPE manufacturer unless the pesticide labeling specifies other requirements.
    • If there are no instructions or requirements, wash PPE throughly in detergent and hot water.
  • Thoroughly dry the clean PPE before it is stored or put it in a well-ventilated place to dry.
  • Store clean PPE separately from personal clothing and away from pesticide-contaminated areas.

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Replacing Respirator Filters, Cartridges or Canisters

Handler employers must replace dust/mist respirator filters:

  • When breathing resistance becomes excessive.
  • If the filter is damaged or torn.
  • When the respirator manufacturer or pesticide labeling says to replace them.
  • At the end of each day’s work period, if no other instructions or indications of service life are available.

Handler employers must replace gas- and vapor-removing respirator cartridges or canisters:

  • At the first indication of odor, taste or irritation.
  • When the respirator manufacturer or pesticide labeling says to replace them.
  • At the end of each day’s work period, if no other instructions or indications of service life are available.

Disposal of PPE and Instructions for Persons Who Clean PPE

Handler employers must discard coveralls or other absorbent materials that have been drenched or heavily contaminated with an undiluted pesticide that has the signal word "DANGER" or "WARNING" on the labeling. These contaminated items must not be reused.

Handler employers must comply with any applicable federal, state, tribal and local regulations when disposing of PPE that cannot be cleaned correctly.

Handler employers must inform people who clean or launder PPE:

  • That the PPE may be contaminated with pesticides.
  • Of the potentially harmful effects of exposure to pesticides.
  • How to protect themselves when handling contaminated PPE.
  • How to clean PPE correctly.

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Exceptions to PPE Requirements

Handler employers may allow handlers to omit some of the PPE listed on the pesticide labeling for a handling task if the handlers are:

  • Using a closed system.
  • In an enclosed cab.
  • In a cockpit.

For more information about when these exceptions apply and the associated requirements, see Chapter 5 of the How to Comply Manual.

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