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Pesticide Worker Safety

Safety Training for Pesticide Workers and Handlers

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires training for all workers and handlers at least every five years.

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How soon must workers and handlers be trained?

  • Handlers must be trained before doing any handling task.
  • Early-entry workers who will contact anything that has been treated with the pesticide while the restricted-entry interval (REI) is in effect must be trained before they do any early-entry task.
  • Other agricultural workers, including early-entry workers who will not contact anything that has been treated with the pesticide while the REI is in effect, must be trained before they accumulate more than five separate days of entry into pesticide-treated areas after the REI expires. These five days of entry need not be consecutive and are not limited to a growing season or calendar year.

Note: Untrained workers must be provided with basic pesticide safety information before they enter into pesticide-treated areas on the establishment.

Read more about early entry requirements.

What are the requirements for providing basic pesticide information to untrained workers?

An agricultural employer must provide basic pesticide safety information to untrained workers before they enter a pesticide-treated area on the establishment. The agricultural employer must provide the basic pesticide safety information in a manner that the untrained workers can understand and must be able to verify that this training was provided.

The basic pesticide safety information must include the following concepts:

  • Pesticides may be on or in plants, soil, irrigation water or drift from nearby applications.
  • Prevent pesticides from entering your body by:
    • Following directions and/or signs about keeping out of treated or restricted areas.
    • Washing before eating, drinking, using chewing gum or tobacco, or using the toilet.
    • Wearing work clothing that protects the body from pesticide residues.
    • Washing/showering with soap and water, shampooing hair and putting on clean clothes after work.
    • Washing work clothes separately from other clothes before wearing them again.
    • Washing immediately in the nearest clean water if pesticides are spilled or sprayed on the body and, as soon as possible, showering, shampooing, and changing into clean clothes.
  • Further training will be provided before the start of the sixth day.

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What are the requirements for pesticide safety training?

Handlers and workers must be trained at least once every five years, counting from the end of the month in which the previous training was completed.

The pesticide safety training materials for workers and handlers must be either:

  • WPS training materials developed by EPA; or
  • Equivalent WPS training material that contains at least the following information:
    • For workers:
      • Where and in what form pesticides may be encountered during work activities.
      • Hazards of pesticides resulting from toxicity and exposure, including:
        • acute and chronic effects; 
        • delayed effects; and
        • sensitization.
      • Routes through which pesticides can enter the body.
      • Signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide poisoning.
      • Emergency first aid for pesticide injuries or poisonings.
      • How to obtain emergency medical care.
      • Routine and emergency decontamination procedures including emergency eye flushing techniques.
      • Hazards from chemigation and drift.
      • Hazards from pesticide residues on clothing.
      • Warnings about taking pesticides or pesticide containers home.
      • Requirements of the WPS designed to reduce the risks of illness or injury resulting from workers’ occupational exposure to pesticides, including:
        • application and entry restrictions;
        • the design of the warning sign;
        • posting of warning signs, oral warnings;
        • the availability of specific information about applications; and
        • the protection against retaliatory acts.
    • For handlers:
      • Format and meaning of information on the product label, including safety information.
      • Hazards of pesticides resulting from toxicity and exposure, including:
        • acute and chronic effects; 
        • delayed effects; and
        • sensitization.
      • Routes through which pesticides can enter the body.
      • Signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide poisoning.
      • Emergency first aid for pesticide injuries or poisonings.
      • How to obtain emergency medical care.
      • Routine and emergency decontamination procedures including emergency eye flushing techniques.
      • Need for and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
      • Prevention, recognition and first aid treatment of heat-related illness.
      • Safety requirements for handling, transporting, storing, and disposing of pesticides, including general procedures for spill cleanup.
      • Environmental concerns such as drift, runoff and wildlife hazards.
      • Warnings about taking pesticides or pesticide containers home.
      • An explanation of WPS requirements that handler employers must follow for the protection of handlers and others, including the:
        • prohibition against applying pesticides in a manner that will cause contact with workers or other persons;
        • requirement to use PPE;
        • provisions for training and decontamination; and
        • protection against retaliatory acts.

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