CEU Series: Precaution Needed When Working With Pesticides

Many pesticide accidents result from careless practices or ignorance.

It is important for applicators and pesticide handlers to learn and implement safe procedures when working with pesticides. As an applicator or handler working with pesticides, you should always exercise safety precautions not only to safeguard your health but also to protect other people and the environment from pesticide injury.

Before Application

Before you begin to work with or apply pesticides, always be sure that all factors are favorable and you take the necessary safety precautions for protecting you, others, and the environment. You are well advised to refrain from applying pesticides if all the factors described below are not as they should be.

Many safety precautions should be taken before you actually begin applying pesticides. Many pesticide applicators are dangerously and unnecessarily exposed to pesticides while they are preparing to spray. Most pesticide accidents can be prevented by adopting informed and careful safety practices.

All pesticide users should keep thorough records for personal, crop, and economic protection. While regulations require that applicators keep specific records on pesticide applications; keeping careful records on previous applications can provide additional benefits such as choosing the most cost effective products and help you avoid the presence of illegal residues. Consistent, detailed records will assist you in your pest control practices and guide you in future pest control programs. Careful documentation also can be an asset in any legal proceedings.

Plan Ahead

Always read the label on the pesticide container thoroughly before you begin to use the product. Make sure that you understand everything you need to know about the pesticide ahead of time so that you use the product correctly and responsibly. Carefully follow all the directions and precautionary advice on the label. Remember the label is the law and directions for use are not merely suggestions but legal requirements for use.

Be sure that you are prepared to deal with an accidental exposure or spill before you begin using pesticides. Be prepared for emergencies and know the first aid procedures for the pesticides you use. Always post emergency phone numbers. If you or any of your fellow workers feel sick, do not try to finish the job. Leave the treated area and seek help immediately. To prepare for accidental spills, have some kind of absorptive material available such as kitty litter, clay, activated charcoal, or sawdust to soak up spills or leaks. Hydrated lime should be available for decontamination of spill surfaces. Keep plenty of soap, detergent, and water or anything else suggested on the label for emergencies or cleanup. In case a change of clothing is necessary, have extra clothes or a protective suit available.

Finally, you should have an understanding of your legal responsibilities when you or your workers handle and apply pesticides. Do not guess about this or anything else about your work. If you have questions about pesticide safety, techniques involving pesticide use and disposal, emergency situations, or your responsibilities under the law, contact your state pesticide regulatory agency or your local Extension agent before you use pesticides.

Move Pesticides Safely

Carelessness in transporting pesticides can result in broken containers, spills, contamination and exposure. Once pesticides are in your possession, you are responsible for transporting them safely. Accidents can occur even when transporting materials a short distance. If a pesticide accident occurs, you are responsible. Do all you can to prevent a transport problem, but be prepared in case of an emergency.

The safest way to carry pesticides is in the back of a truck. Flatbed trucks should have side and tail racks. Steel beds are preferable since they can be more easily decontaminated if a spill should occur. Never carry pesticides inside your car, van, or truck cab. Pesticides may cause injury or death if they spill on you or your passengers or hazardous fumes may be released. Spills on upholstery or carpeting are nearly impossible to clean up, and may be a source of future contamination. Never leave your vehicle unattended when transporting pesticides in an unlocked trunk compartment or open-bed truck. You, and not your employer are legally responsible if curious children or careless adults are accidentally poisoned by unattended pesticides.

Children must never be allowed to ride on or near pesticides. Never transport groceries or livestock feed near pesticides. Secure all pesticide containers in such a way that they cannot shift, roll, or bounce around. All containers should be protected from moisture that might saturate paper and cardboard packaging or rust metal. Any spills in or from the vehicle must be immediately cleaned up, using correct procedures. If a spill is large, the appropriate regulatory authorities must be notified.

Some pesticides are designated “hazardous substances” by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Certain guidelines apply to the transportation of pesticides that are on DOT’s list of hazardous substances. For example, shipping papers must be carried in the truck cab if designated pesticides are moved on the highway. The truck may also be required to display a sign (“placard”) which indicates that hazardous substances are being transported. The state DOT office should be contacted for detailed information on which pesticides are on the hazardous substance list, and what rules apply to them during transportation.

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2 comments on “CEU Series: Precaution Needed When Working With Pesticides

  1. Help please can’t print all the pages for the article to read it before I take the test. Paragraphs starting at Personal Protective equipment to the end of article will not allow me to print it under the print button.
    Thanks, Karen

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