EPA’s Worker Protection Standard Updates for New York Farm Workers
(August 2016)

In September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new regulations to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The revisions were made to ensure the protection of farmworkers, pesticide handlers, and bystanders near agricultural sites from pesticide exposure. EPA officials recently visited New York farm workers to discuss how updated worker protection standards will help them.

The updates require workplaces to implement better training practices on pesticide handling and adopt a more disciplined sanitation protocol including having workers wear the appropriate protective equipment and providing supplies for sanitation upkeep. According to EPA’s website, specific requirements for workers and handlers of pesticide products will include:

▲ A minimum age requirement of 18 years for pesticide handlers and early-entry workers

▲ Annual mandatory training for farm workers on how to protect themselves and their families from exposure to pesticides, and additional training on safety before entering the field

▲ Improved communication related to hazardous materials

▲ Specified gallons of water for washing and decontamination for each worker

▲ Increased medical surveillance and assistance such as respirator and fit testing

EPA hopes that these changes will ultimately promote a healthier workforce and reduce avoidable economic costs. Most revisions will take effect in January 2017 to allow sufficient time for farmers and states to adjust to the changes.