CURRENT REGULATIONS until January 2, 2017
Worker Protection is your responsibility
Failure to comply with the Worker Protection Standard can result in heavy fines up to $25,000 per violation and 1 year in prison. Different states have heavier fines. Knowingly violating WPS can result in even greater fines and misdemeanor charges. It is your responsibility to comply with the letter of the law.
Watch the following Informational videos on WPS compliance:
Who Must Comply?
Most people who employ others to do agricultural work must comply with the WPS. Even if only you and your family members work at your establishment, you are a WPS employer.
If you own or manage any of the following types of businesses and use pesticides for the production of agricultural plants, you must comply with the WPS:
If you hire workers or contract with employers to supply workers to do tasks at any of the businesses listed above, you must comply with the WPS.
If you operate a business in which you or the people you employ apply pesticides that are used in the production of agricultural plants in any of the businesses listed above, you must comply with the WPS.
If you operate a business in which you or the people you employ act as crop consultants or crop scouts, meaning that you assess pest numbers or damage, pesticide distribution, or the status, condition, or requirements of agricultural plants, you must comply with the WPS.
Putting it into Practice
The best way to protect your workers and to decrease your liability is to ensure that workers are well-informed about how to work safely with pesticides. WPS requires that you provide the following to your workers:
- Pesticide safety training. You must provide in-depth pesticide safety training for both pesticide handlers and agricultural workers. EPA has specific requirements for the content of this training. Use our WPS training page to learn more.
- Pesticide safety poster. You must display a pesticide safety poster at a central location. This poster must have been developed by the EPA like the one at right, or must contain specific information listed in the How to Comply Manual.
- Access to labeling information. Pesticide handlers and early-entry workers must have access to the pesticide label during handling tasks. If handlers or workers cannot read the label, you must inform them, in a manner they can understand, of:
- the signal word,
- human hazard statements and precautions,
- PPE requirements,
- first aid instructions,
- environmental precautions, and
- any additional precautions about the handling tasks to be performed.
- Access to application information. At a central location, you must provide information about pesticide applications that have been made on the establishment. This information must include:
- Location and description of the treated area
- Product name
- EPA registration number
- Active ingredients of the pesticide
- Time and date of application
- REI for the pesticide
The following forms contain the required application information to comply with WPS:
Enclosed Structures (Greenhouses, indoor production facilities, etc.)
It is always possible for pesticide exposure to occur, even if you provide all the correct information and protection to your employees. To mitigate those risks, the WPS requires the following:
- Decontamination supplies. You must provide workers and handlers with an ample supply of soap, water, and clean towels for both routine washing and emergency decontamination. For handlers, you must provide enough water to wash the entire body (at least 3 gallons) and a clean set of clothes.
- Emergency assistance. If a worker or handler who you currently employ or have previously employed has been injured or poisoned by a pesticide used on the establishment, you must:
- Provide transportation to an emergency medical facility.
- Provide information about the pesticide either to the worker or to medical personnel. The label is the most convenient form of this information. In addition, you must provide the circumstances of the exposure.
In order to ensure that your employees are protected from pesticide exposure, the WPS requires employers to do the following:
- Prohibit handlers from applying pesticides in ways that could expose other workers. Handler employers and pesticide handlers share the responsibility of ensuring that pesticides do not contact anyone except appropriately trained and equipped handlers, either directly or through drift.
- Exclude workers from areas being treated with pesticides. Everyone, except properly trained handlers, must be kept out of areas being treated with pesticides. In nurseries and greenhouses, different “keep out zones” apply to different pesticides. specific instructions can be found in the How to Comply Manual.
- Exclude workers from areas under an REI, with narrow exceptions. You must abide by the REI found on the pesticide label. There are only two exceptions to this restriction:
- Early entry with NO CONTACT, and
- Early entry with contact for only short-term, emergency, and specially excepted tasks. More information can be found in our Early-Entry Worker Training page (scroll down).
Early-entry tasks may also be performed by trained pesticide handlers.
1. Protect early-entry workers. Protection includes the following:
- Training. Early entry tasks may also be performed by trained pesticide handlers.
- Decontamination supplies. These include at least 1 gallon of water, soap, and single-use towels. These supplies cannot be in an area being treated with pesticides, and they must be within 1/4 mile of early-entry workers.
- PPE. You must provide early-entry workers with the PPE required by the pesticide label, and you must check that it is clean and undamaged. You must also ensure that workers wear the PPE correctly, and provide a place for workers to change into and out of PPE.
2. Notify workers and handlers about treated areas so they can avoid exposure. You must provide notification according to the pesticide label. Some labels specify that you provide notification both orally and via posted signs. In greenhouses, you must post all treated areas; on farms, forests, and nurseries, you must post signs at the usual entrance to the treated area. Signs must be understandable to employees; post a sign that uses the primary language of your employees.
3. Protect handlers during handling tasks. This requirement includes:
- Monitoring. Handlers must be monitored when handling pesticides with a skull and crossbones like the one to the right. At least once every 2 hours, someone must check – by sight or voice – that a person handling a Danger-Poison pesticide is OK. When a handler is using fumigants in a greenhouse, someone trained as a handler must maintain constant visual or voice contact with the handler, and must have the proper PPE at hand to be able to enter the treatment area.
- Ensuring correct use of PPE. You must provide the correct, functional PPE required by the pesticide label and must ensure that the handler wears the PPE correctly and for the duration of the entire task. For example, if the label requires a respirator, ensure that it fits the handler’s face snugly.