Learn The Laws To Ensure Worker Safety

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a set of federal regulations designed to protect agricultural employees, especially farm workers, from possible harm from pesticides used in the commercial production of agricultural plants. “Agricultural plants” are plants on or in farms, nurseries, greenhouses, and commercial forests. The law has been in effect since Jan. 1, 1995, with a revision in Sept. 2005. In July 2004, the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) adopted EPA’s WPS regulations as the Florida Agricultural Worker Safety Act (FAWSA) by rule.

The three groups of people affected by both the WPS and FAWSA are:
• Agricultural employers are growers and others who employ agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.
• Agricultural workers are individuals who perform hand labor tasks such as harvesting, thinning, pruning, and related tasks on agricultural establishments where they do not come into direct contact with pesticides.
• Pesticide handlers are individuals who come into direct contact with pesticides during mixing, loading, and/or applying pesticides, or by repairing or cleaning equipment that contains pesticides.

The three main goals of the WPS and FAWSA are:
1) Protect agricultural workers and pesticide handlers
2) Provide pesticide safety information
3) Mitigation

Protecting Workers And Handlers

The main way that employers can protect their employees from pesticides is to help them avoid exposure. This means that pesticide handlers must know that any pesticide they apply cannot come in contact with nearby agricultural workers. At the same time, agricultural workers must know that they need to stay out of areas being treated with pesticides (notification). The minimum distance is one-quarter mile for most applications, though distances are smaller for nurseries.

Employers must tell their workers when and where pesticide applications will take place and how long they must stay out of the treated area. If the pesticide label permits, the notification can be done orally, though some pesticides require that the treated area be posted with EPA-approved signs.

Providing Information

Employers must provide safety information about the pesticides that are being used. This should be done by displaying information at a central location. Required information includes both an EPA-approved central location poster and specific information about pesticides that have been used on or in the farm, nursery, greenhouse, or forest. In Florida, the records need to include both the time the application begins and the time it ends. Maintain the pesticide information posted at the central location for at least 30 days after the expiration of the restricted entry interval (REI) listed on the product’s label.

The other component of providing information is pesticide safety training for both agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. Trainers must meet specific qualifications such as being a licensed pesticide applicator or attending a FDACS-approved train-the-trainer course. Training must be done in a language that the employees understand, using a translator if necessary. The trainer must use EPA-approved training materials. Trainers should keep good records of training sessions using a sign-in sheet. Training is valid for five years. After that, workers and handlers must be retrained.

FDACS assists Florida producers by providing many WPS materials, including the central location poster and training materials. The order form can be found at www.flaes.org/complimonitoring/workersafety/index.html. According to FDACS, the two most common WPS violations in Florida are related to the central location (38% in 2007) and pesticide safety training (36%).

Mitigation

Employers must provide decontamination supplies for both agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. For workers, the supplies must be kept within a quarter-mile of where they are working. Supplies include water, single-use towels, and soap. These must be available for 30 days after the expiration of the longest REI that has been used. Handler supplies must include water for emergency whole body washing, clean coveralls (pro-
tection from exposure to pesticides), soap, single-use towels, and 1 pint of water for emergency eye flushing when protective eyewear is listed on the pesticide label.

If an employee is exposed to a pesticide or involved in an accident with pesticides, the employer must provide transportation to the nearest medical facility. The employer must also provide information about the pesticide and the circumstances involved in the exposure. This includes the product name, EPA registration number, active ingredient(s), and first aid and medical information from the label, and the MSDS.

The handler’s employer is responsible for providing specific information about the pesticide application, including the type of posting that is required and all other safety requirements on the labeling. When scouts or other contact employers plan to visit the facility, the producer must provide specific information about areas that have been treated and where REIs are in effect.

One of the key provisions of the WPS is that employers cannot fire either agricultural workers or pesticide handlers who are trying to comply with the Worker Protection Standard and the Florida Agricultural Worker Safety Act. This is known as “protection against retaliation.”

For More

The best source for information about the Worker Protection Standard is the How to Comply manual, published by the EPA and found at
www.epa.gov/agriculture/htc.html.

If you would like to learn more about the Florida Agricultural Worker Safety Act, visit www.flaes.org/complimonitoring/workersafety/index.html.

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Learn The Laws To Ensure Worker Safety

  1. Mary,
    Hello, when the article was emailed to me you could receive a variety of CEUs but when you go to answer the question set it says one Core CEU. Would you please clarify. 941-722-4524 Manatee County Extension Office. Thanks, Jennifer

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    The questions are good to earn 1 CEU in Private, Aerial, Ag Row Crop, Ag Tree Crop, Forestry, Ornamental & Turf or Soil & Greenhouse Fumigation.

    Frank

  3. Mary,
    Hello, when the article was emailed to me you could receive a variety of CEUs but when you go to answer the question set it says one Core CEU. Would you please clarify. 941-722-4524 Manatee County Extension Office. Thanks, Jennifer

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    The questions are good to earn 1 CEU in Private, Aerial, Ag Row Crop, Ag Tree Crop, Forestry, Ornamental & Turf or Soil & Greenhouse Fumigation.

    Frank

Featured Stories
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Farm Management
July 29, 2016
Obama Signs GMO Labeling Law
The law is praised by major grower groups because it avoids a patchwork of state laws and provides clarity going forward. Read More
Dust Demo - Feature
Nuts
July 29, 2016
Don’t Bite The Dust In Your Almond Orchard
Being smart about little things, such as occasionally slowing down during almond harvest, can go a long way toward improving public perception – not to mention keeping regulators off your back. Read More
image1 - feature
Nuts
July 28, 2016
Tips For Late-Planting Potted Trees
Historically, the establishment of deciduous orchards was typified by planting bare-rooted trees during dormancy. With the advent of technology and Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
July 28, 2016
Florida’s Medicinal Cannabis Venture Officially Open For Business
The state’s first dispensary of product comes online in Tallahassee, others waiting for the green light. Read More
Andrew (left) and Steve Beilstein use an air dancer, pictured in the background, as a bird-scaring device at The Blueberry Patch in Lexington, OH.  (Photo credit: Gary Gao)
Berries
July 27, 2016
Bird Damage Plagues Most Fruit Growers
There’s no silver bullet, but here are several techniques to annoy and deter birds. Read More
precision ag vision conference
Citrus
July 27, 2016
Ag Tech Is Hot On Horticulture; Get A Handle On What This Means For You
As evidenced by the recent AgTech Summit hosted by Forbes magazine in Salinas, CA, action in precision farming and the Read More
These wildflowers, planted near a California almond orchard, can be extremely effective in aiding pollinators. (Photo credit: Katharina Ullmann, Xerces Society)
Production
July 27, 2016
Survey: Fruit And Vegetable Growers Support Pollinators
Most of the berry, almond, melon, pumpkin, and tree fruit growers surveyed are being careful about how they manage their farms to minimize pesticide impacts and improve bees’ habitats. Read More
potato late blight leaves
Potatoes
July 27, 2016
Hail Hammers Potato Crops In North Dakota
Storms have wreaked havoc on crops in the Peace Garden State. Read More
cash money in hand
Citrus
July 27, 2016
Stockholders OK Dow, DuPont Merger
Companies intend to separate into three, independent companies. Read More
The Latest
Farm Management
July 29, 2016
Obama Signs GMO Labeling Law
The law is praised by major grower groups because it avoids a patchwork of state laws and provides clarity going forward. Read More
Nuts
July 29, 2016
Don’t Bite The Dust In Your Almond Orcha…
Being smart about little things, such as occasionally slowing down during almond harvest, can go a long way toward improving public perception – not to mention keeping regulators off your back. Read More
Nuts
July 28, 2016
Tips For Late-Planting Potted Trees
Historically, the establishment of deciduous orchards was typified by planting bare-rooted trees during dormancy. With the advent of technology and Read More
Citrus
July 28, 2016
Florida’s Medicinal Cannabis Venture Off…
The state’s first dispensary of product comes online in Tallahassee, others waiting for the green light. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 28, 2016
Seeing The Real Big Apple On The Nation’…
Hot temperatures, lack of precipitation, mechanization, and high density production systems were among the highlights of the International Fruit Tree Association’s annual study tour. Read More
Berries
July 27, 2016
Bird Damage Plagues Most Fruit Growers
There’s no silver bullet, but here are several techniques to annoy and deter birds. Read More
Citrus
July 27, 2016
Ag Tech Is Hot On Horticulture; Get A Ha…
As evidenced by the recent AgTech Summit hosted by Forbes magazine in Salinas, CA, action in precision farming and the Read More
Production
July 27, 2016
Survey: Fruit And Vegetable Growers Supp…
Most of the berry, almond, melon, pumpkin, and tree fruit growers surveyed are being careful about how they manage their farms to minimize pesticide impacts and improve bees’ habitats. Read More
Potatoes
July 27, 2016
Hail Hammers Potato Crops In North Dakot…
Storms have wreaked havoc on crops in the Peace Garden State. Read More
Citrus
July 27, 2016
Stockholders OK Dow, DuPont Merger
Companies intend to separate into three, independent companies. Read More
Stone Fruit
July 26, 2016
Take A Closer Look At The Tall Spindle A…
One of the more traditional three-dimensional canopies, Tall Spindle Axe data shows consistent early and sustained yields. Read More
Berries
July 26, 2016
Wish Farms Commits $100K To Food Safety …
Central Florida berry operation will donate $20,000 annually over the next five years to fund various research projects backed by the Center for Produce Safety. Read More
Fruits
July 26, 2016
Popular Spanish-Speaking Fruit Summer To…
Second-annual tour designed to educate Spanish-speaking employees or farmworkers on fruit growing practices. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 26, 2016
Walmart Begins Selling So-Called ‘…
Cosmetically challenged apples are the company’s first foray into a global movement to cut food waste. Read More
Production
July 26, 2016
Importing Frozen Honeybee Sperm Is Key T…
The Washington State University (WSU) bee program has worked with researchers from around the world to create more honeybee genetic repositories like the one at WSU. Read More
GenNext Growers
July 26, 2016
Tour Dedicated To Next Generation Tree F…
Newly formed Next Generation Tree Fruit Alliance to tour orchards, network. Read More
Farm Management
July 26, 2016
Mexico Has Potential For U.S. Sweet Pota…
Assessment concluded that opportunities abound if Mexican buyers better understand grades, sizes, and quality of U.S. product. Read More
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Study: GMO Ban Would Hurt Economy And En…
Food prices and greenhouse gas emissions would rise, according to paper by Purdue University agricultural economist. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]