WPS – Worker/Handler Training

Training is the best way to protect employees

While training for workers and handlers is the law, it is also the best way to ensure that your workers are not exposed to pesticides. Protect yourself by protecting them. Are you looking for a qualified Trainer? Check here: WPS Worker/Handler Pesticide Safety Training Providers

To become qualified as a Trainer of workers and handlers, you can take this online Train-the-Trainer course:
PERC Train-the-Trainer online course

This web site cannot give you all the information you need to comply with the WPS. Please consult EPA’s How to Comply with WPS and WPS website for full details.

The Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC) is a cooperative agreement between EPA’s Office of Pesticide Program and University of California – Davis Extension, collaborating with Oregon State University. This site maintains a list of resources for use in training Workers and Handlers. PERC Training Resources.

Under the 2015 Revised Worker Protection Standard, the following requirements must be met:

  • Expanded training concepts will be required starting January 2, 2018.
  • Training must be delivered in a manner that can be understood, in a location relatively free from distractions.
  • When training workers or handlers, the trainer must remain present at all times to be available to answer questions, even when showing a video.
  • Trainers must be qualified, most often by holding a pesticide applicator’s license or by completing an EPA-approved Train-the-Trainer course.
  • Only EPA-approved training materials must be used for training workers and handlers. PERC WPS training materials.
  • Training verification records must be kept for 2 years after training is completed. No specific form is required but a form that meets the requirements is available here: WPS-Verification Pesticide Safety Training form for Employees

Putting it into Practice

Who must be provided with pesticide safety training?

All workers must be trained before working in any field where a WPS-labeled pesticide has been applied within the last 30 days of the REI expiring. Handlers must be trained before any handling tasks. You are not required to conduct pesticide safety training if the worker or handler:

  • Is currently a certified applicator of restricted-use pesticides
  • Is currently trained as a handler who works under the supervision of a certified pesticide applicator
  • Is certified as a crop advisor by a program acknowledged as appropriate in writing by EPA, or a State or Tribal agency responsible for pesticide enforcement. For more information, contact Colorado Certified Crop Advisor Program

How soon must I provide training?

There is no grace period for WPS training!

The agricultural employer must ensure that WPS training is completed within the last 12 months before:

  • Any worker enters a treated area on an agricultural establishment where, within the last 30 days, a WPS-labeled pesticide product has been used or a REI for such pesticide has been in effect.
  • Any handler conducts any handling task.

Training must be conducted every 12 months, with the ‘clock ticking’ at the end of the month in which training was provided.

Who can conduct training?

The person who conducts worker training must:

  • Currently be a certified applicator of restricted-use pesticides (in any category of certification), or
  • Currently be designated as a trainer of certified pesticide applicators, handlers or workers by the EPA or the state, or tribal agency having jurisdiction, or
  • Have completed an EPA-approved pesticide safety train-the-trainer program for trainers of workers.

The person who conducts handler training must:

  • Currently be a certified applicator of restricted-use pesticides (in any category of certification), or
  • Currently be designated as a trainer of certified pesticide applicators or handlers by a state, federal, or tribal agency having jurisdiction, or
  • Have completed an EPA-approved pesticide safety train-the-trainer program for trainers of handlers.

How should training be conducted?

Trainers of workers or handlers must:

  • Use EPA-approved training materials,
  • Present the training orally from written materials or audio visually,
  • Present the information in a manner that the trainees can understand, using a translator if necessary,
  • Be present at all times during the training to respond to trainees’ questions, and
  • Ensure training quality by providing an environment conducive to training that is reasonably free of distractions.
  • Maintain a training verification record for 2 years. There is no specific form required but one that meets the requirements is available here: WPS-Verification Pesticide Safety Training form for Employees

Training for Agricultural workers

Training for agricultural workers is required before they enter into treated areas where a WPS-labeled pesticide has been applied in the last 30 days or a REI for such pesticide has been in effect.

Employers must comply with the following when providing training:

  • Provide training in a manner that the workers or handlers can understand, using a translator if necessary.
  • Present training using EPA-approved materials either orally from written materials or audio-visually.
  • Keep records of worker or handler training for 2 years.
  • Make training records available to employees upon request.

Training for workers must include the following information:

  • The agricultural employer must inform workers and handlers, in a manner they understand, about the location of the following on the establishment:
    • Pesticide safety information
    • Pesticide application and hazard information, and
    • Decontamination supplies.
  • Worker training materials must be approved by EPA and must include, at a minimum, all of the following topics
    • The responsibility of agricultural employers to provide workers and handlers with information and protections designed to reduce work-related pesticide exposures and illnesses. This includes:
      • Ensuring workers and handlers have been trained on pesticide safety,
      • Providing pesticide safety and application and hazard information, decontamination supplies and emergency medical assistance,
      • Notifying workers of restrictions during applications and on entering pesticide treated areas, and
      • Informing a worker or handler that they may designate in writing a representative to request access to pesticide application and hazard information.
    • How to recognize and understand the meaning of the posted warning signs used for notifying workers of restrictions on entering pesticide treated areas on the establishment.
    • How to follow directions and/or signs about keeping out of pesticide treated areas subject to a REI and application exclusion zones.
    • Where and in what forms pesticides may be encountered during work activities, and potential sources of pesticide exposure on the agricultural establishment. This includes exposure to pesticide residues that may be on or in plants, soil, tractors, application and chemigation equipment, or used PPE, and that pesticides may drift through the air from nearby applications or be in irrigation water.
    • Potential hazards from toxicity and exposure that pesticides present to workers and their families, including acute and chronic effects, delayed effects, and sensitization.
    • Routes through which pesticides can enter the body.
    • Signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide poisoning.
    • Emergency first aid for pesticide injuries or poisonings.
    • Routine and emergency decontamination procedures, including emergency eye flushing techniques, and if pesticides are spilled or sprayed on the body to use decontamination supplies to wash immediately or rinse off in the nearest clean water, including springs, streams, lakes or other sources if more readily available than decontamination supplies, and as soon as possible, wash or shower with soap and water, shampoo hair, and change into clean clothes.
    • How and when to obtain emergency medical care.
    • When working in pesticide treated areas, wear work clothing that protects the body from pesticide residues and wash hands before eating, drinking, using chewing gum or tobacco, or using the toilet.
    • Wash or shower with soap and water, shampoo hair, and change into clean clothes as soon as possible after working in pesticide treated areas. Potential hazards from pesticide residues on clothing.
    • Wash work clothes before wearing them again and wash them separately from other clothes.
    • Do not take pesticides or pesticide containers used at work to your home.
    • Safety data sheets provide hazard, emergency medical treatment and other information about the pesticides used on the establishment they may come in contact with.
    • The responsibility of agricultural employers to do all of the following:
      • Display safety data sheets for all pesticides used on the establishment.
      • Provide workers and handlers information about the location of the safety data sheets on the establishment.
      • Provide workers and handlers unimpeded access to safety data sheets during normal work hours.
    • The rule prohibits agricultural employers from allowing or directing any worker to mix, load or apply pesticides or assist in the application of pesticides unless the worker has been trained as a handler.
    • The responsibility of agricultural employers to provide specific information to workers before directing them to perform early-entry activities. Workers must be 18 years old to perform early-entry activities.
    • Potential hazards to children and pregnant women from pesticide exposure.
    • Keep children and nonworking family members away from pesticide treated areas.
    • After working in pesticide treated areas, remove work boots or shoes before entering your home, and remove work clothes and wash or shower before physical contact with children or family members.
    • How to report suspected pesticide use violations to the State or Tribal agency responsible for pesticide enforcement.
    • The rule prohibits agricultural employers from intimidating, threatening, coercing, or discriminating against any worker or handler for complying with or attempting to comply with the requirements of this rule, or because the worker or handler provided, caused to be provided or is about to provide information to the employer or the EPA or its agents regarding conduct that the employee reasonably believes violates this part, and/or made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing concerning compliance with this rule.

Training & instruction for Early-entry Workers

Early-entry workers must be currently trained as a WPS worker before entering a treated area during an REI. For an agricultural employer to direct a worker to perform activities in a treated area where a REI is in effect, they must:

  • Ensure that any early-entry worker is at least 18 years old.
  • Give instructions to early-entry workers. Prior to early entry, give each early-entry worker all of the following information orally and in a manner that the worker can understand:
    • Location of early-entry area where work activities are to be performed.
    • Pesticide(s) applied.
    • Dates and times that the REI begins and ends.
    • Which exception is the basis for the early entry, and a description of tasks that may be performed under that exception.
    • Whether contact with treated surfaces is permitted under the exception.
    • Amount of time the worker is allowed to remain in the treated area.
    • PPE required by the pesticide product labeling for early entry.
    • Location of the pesticide safety information (safety poster).
    • Location of the decontamination supplies required for early-entry workers.
  • Read the pesticide label. Ensure that each early-entry worker either has read the applicable pesticide product labeling or has been informed, in a manner that the worker can understand, of all labeling requirements and statements related to human hazards or precautions, first aid and user safety.

Additional requirements for early-entry workers are found in Chapter 3 of the How To Comply Manual.

Training for pesticide handlers

Handlers must be trained before they do any type of handling work. The following is a review of the key requirements of WPS training for handlers:

  • There is no grace period for WPS training!
  • Before any handler performs any handler task, the handler employer must ensure that each handler has completed WPS training within the last 12 months, unless the handler is currently:
    • Certified as an applicator of restricted-use pesticides, or
    • Certified or licensed as a crop advisor by a program acknowledged as appropriate in writing by EPA or the State or Tribal agency responsible for pesticide enforcement.
  • Train handlers every 12 months. Only qualified trainers (described in Chapter 2) may provide training and must be present during the entire training program to respond to questions.
  • Provide training in a language or manner the handlers can understand, such as using a translator.
  • Present training using EPA-approved materials either orally from written materials or audio-visually.
  • Keep training records for 2 years.
  • Provide training records to handler employees upon request

In addition to providing the WPS handler training and protections covered in Chapter 2 of the How to Comply Manual, the handler employer must also provide handlers with the information below, in a manner they can understand, before they perform any handler activity.

  • Labeling information – The handler must either read, or be informed of, all sections of the pesticide product labeling applicable to the safe use of the pesticide, including label use directions and restrictions. The handler must be given this information in a manner they can understand. The labeling must be available to the handler at all times during handler activities.
  • Application-specific information – Handlers must be made aware of any entry restrictions, AEZs and REIs that may apply to the activities being performed by the handler.
  • Pesticide application equipment – A handler employer must ensure that:
    • Handlers are instructed in the safe operation of equipment used to mix, load, transfer, or apply pesticides before they use the equipment.
    • Each day before using any equipment to mix, load, transfer or apply pesticides, the equipment is inspected for leaks, clogged nozzles, worn or damaged parts and equipment is repaired or replaced before it is used.

Does the pesticide label require the handler to wear a respirator? If so, WPS requires a medical evaluation, annual fit testing and annual training on use/maintenance of the respirator. Download a free copy of the WPS-Respirator-Guide 2017 or purchase a print copy here.

There are more requirements for employers of pesticide handlers other than training. Find them in the How to Comply manual.
Contact CSU Equal Opportunity Privacy Statement Disclaimer

2018 Colorado State Universtiy, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523 USA