EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Update (October 2015)The EPA recently announced updates to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to increase protection of the nation’s two million farm workers and their families from pesticide exposure. These changes will afford farm workers similar health protections that are already afforded to workers in other industries while taking into account the unique working environment of many agricultural jobs. The regulation seeks to protect and reduce the risks of injury or illness resulting from agricultural workers’ (those who perform hand-labor tasks in pesticide-treated crops, such as harvesting, thinning, pruning) and pesticide handlers’ (those who mix, load and apply pesticides) use and contact with pesticides on farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses. The regulation does not cover persons working with livestock. A few of the major changes that will take place include:
▲ Annual mandatory training to inform workers of the protections afforded to them
▲ Increased training about how to reduce take-home exposure to pesticides
▲ Minimum age requirement of 18 years old in order to handle pesticides
▲ Changes in personal protection equipment to ensure compliance with Department of Labor’s standards including, respirator effectiveness, a fit test, medical evaluation and training
WPS impacts all companies that sell agricultural use products, as well as growers and farm workers. Evaluating the safety of individual pesticides and ensuring that workers are safely interacting with them are of the utmost priority.
For more information and a complete list of all major changes see: http://www2.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/revisions-worker-protection-standard