Lock Down Your Pesticides

Look for Damage: Inspect pesticide containers regularly for tears, splits, breaks, leaks, rust or corrosion. If you find a damaged container, immediately put on appropriate PPE and take immediate action to prevent the pesticide from leaking or spreading into the surrounding area. If a container is already leaking, take the necessary corrective action to prevent further leaking and then clean up any spilled pesticide. Depending on the situation, consider the following actions:

• Use the pesticide immediately at a site and rate allowed by the label.
• Transfer the pesticide into another pesticide container that originally held the same pesticide and has an intact label.
• Transfer the contents to an appropriate container that can be tightly closed. If possible, remove the label from the damaged container and place it on the new container. Otherwise temporarily mark the new container with basic labeling information and request a new label from the pesticide manufacturer or distributor.
• Place the entire damaged container and its contents into a suitable larger container.

Note Shelf Life of Pesticides: Keep an inventory of all pesticides in storage and mark each container with its purchase date. Be sure to note if the product has an effective shelf life listed on its label. If you have questions about the shelf life of a product, contact the dealer or the manufacturer. Signs of pesticide deterioration from age or poor storage may appear during mixing, watch for excessive clumping, poor suspension, layering, or abnormal coloration during mixing. Many times the first indication of pesticide deterioration may be poor pest control and/or damage to the treated crop or surface. To minimize storage problems, avoid storing large quantities of pesticides for long periods. Keep records of previous usage to help make good estimates of future needs. Buy only as much as you need for the job or season.

Additional Safety Measure: The following safety tips will help prevent pesticide accidents and exposures in storage areas and help people respond appropriately to pesticide spills and emergencies:

• Have duplicate copies of labels available in case of an emergency. Keep MSDS sheets available for every chemical in the storage facility.
• Wear appropriate PPE when handling pesticide containers.
• Label all items used for handling pesticides to prevent their use for other purposes.
• Have clay, pet litter, fine sand, activated charcoal, vermiculite or other absorbent materials readily available in case of spills or leaks. In addition keep a shovel, broom and heavy duty plastic bags on hand.
• Check the MSDS for the types of materials that may be needed to deactivate spills.
• Treated seed is usually colored with a bright dye to help serve as a warning that the seed has been treated with a pesticide. Handle it with the same care as the pesticide itself and store in a locked storage facility away from other pesticides.
• Keep clean water for decontamination, an eyewash station, PPE, a fire extinguisher rated for chemical fires, first aid equipment and emergency telephone numbers easily accessible at all times. In addition keep soap, water and plenty of paper towels available near the storage facility.
• Do not store your PPE in the same room as your pesticides.

Make a Checklist: Safety is the key element in proper pesticide storage; a “Safety Checklist” will help in keeping your storage site safe and secure. If you are not currently using a safety checklist contact your local County Extension Office to get a copy, or find a suitable safety checklist on the internet that meets your situation; one such checklist can be found at:http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/upest/fact_sheets/PesticideStorageChecklist.pdf.

Storage Site Security: Taking the proper security steps can be critical to maintaining the safety of your facility, your business and even your community. Without effective security measures a business dealing with pesticides may be vulnerable to both internal and external threats. Protection of mobile pesticide application equipment, particularly aerial equipment should be taken into account as well. Terrorists are unlike criminals whose prime motivation is monetary gain. Terrorists have idealistic or political agendas and will attempt to accomplish their mission without fear of being caught. Their actions are carefully planned and coordinated and attempted by skilled and possibly armed individuals. Security precautions designed to simply deter theft may not be as effective against terrorists’ threats. Some questions you might ask to asses your risks:

• What is the threat (theft, sabotage, attack)?
• How might illegal activities be carried out?
• Is the threat internal or external?
• Are containers of hazardous substances easily accessible?
• Is there the potential for siphoning from large storage tanks?
• Are unauthorized people allowed on the premises?
• Are unauthorized people escorted while they are on the premises and do they sign in and out?
• Are background checks performed on employees?
• Are employees aware of the security risks associated with the storage of pesticides and other hazardous substances?
• Is there a potential for theft of electronic information that could result in security breaches?

Recommended Considerations in evaluating pesticide security:

• Securing buildings, manufacturing facilities, storage areas, and surrounding properties are fundamental. Prevention of intrusion can include elements such as fencing or other barriers, lighting, locks, detection systems, signage, alarms, camera’s and trained guards.
• Securing pesticide application equipment and vehicles.
• Aerial application equipment: the FBI has requested aerial applicators be vigilant in any suspicious activity relevant to the use, training in or acquisition of dangerous chemicals and their application.
• Protect confidential information: as businesses have grown more reliant on computers and communications technology, the need to secure these systems has grown. These efforts can include; planning for power losses, monitoring access, adherence to password and background procedures and maintaining access for authorized users only.
• Develop procedures that support security needs.
• Effective hiring and labor relations are important to obtain and retain good employees who will support and follow safety procedures. The hiring process should ensure that pesticide handlers have all necessary training and should include background checks of staff that have access to secure areas.
• Inventory management policies can help limit the amount of potential hazardous pesticides stored on site.
• Advance emergency response procedures can be critical; employees should have a good understanding of how to respond and who to contact during an emergency.
• Establish procedures for locking up and securing the facility at the close of the business day.

Maintain awareness of anyone demonstrating suspicious behavior, including those who:

• Seem unfamiliar with agriculture or agrichemicals.
• Seem to be “hanging out”.
• Insist on paying cash only – especially on large purchases.
• Wish to purchase only the most toxic materials.
• Are unwilling to present positive identification or license credentials.
• Seem anxious or uneasy when asked questions regarding their intent.

Also, remember to:

• Ask for proof of licensure when a customer is purchasing a restricted use pesticide.
• Ask for picture identification to confirm identities.
• Be aware of personal identity theft for customers and employees.
• Require a signature for product deliveries and deliver only to legitimate recipients.
• Avoid unguarded and unlit areas where the possibility of theft increases.
• Advise all customers regarding potentials for theft and use of agrichemicals as weapons of terror.

If you suspect suspicious activity, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

• Bureau of Compliance Monitoring 850-488-3314
• Law Enforcement Division 1-800-342-5869

As licensed pesticide applicators it is essential that good safety and security practices be followed when storing pesticides. In today’s tough economic times the theft of agricultural pesticides is on the rise. Environmental awareness, especially as it relates to agricultural issues, is at an all time high. The threat of terrorism is not going to go away any time soon. As licensed pesticide applicators it is critical that awareness to safe pesticide storage and security be given our full attention!

• Fishel, F. 2010. Applying Pesticides Correctly.

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