Weed & Pest
Pesticide application procedures affected by protection standardsWritten by Natasha Wheeler
On Sept. 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to the worker protection standard, which applies to pesticide handlers and people who perform hand-labor tasks in pesticide-treated crops.
Revisions affect pesticide regulations concerning training, safety and hazard communication, personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies for washing and emergency decontamination.
“There is a table that the EPA put out called ‘Comparison of the New Protections to the Existing Protections,’ and it is five pages long,” comments Wyoming Ag Business Association Executive Director Keith Kennedy.
One of the major changes to the worker protection standard is what defines employing someone.
“EPA defined ‘employ’ as anyone self-employed, contracted or contracted through a third party. Operations will have to make certain that these employees all have training, access to records, etc.,” Kennedy says.
This includes family members who work for operations that run under corporation or LLC titles and therefore do not qualify for family exemptions.
“There are some operations that are partnerships where this won’t be an issue, but we see a lot of folks than have an LLC to operate their farm or ranch,” he notes.
Although, the new definition of immediate family is now more inclusive than it was in the old standards.
“The definition of immediate family has been extended to include in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and first cousins,” Kennedy explains.
Other important changes in the EPA standards pertain to training regulations for workers that may come into contact with pesticide application areas.
“The certification and training proposed rule is out for comment right now,” Kennedy notes. “It used to be that employers only had to train workers and handlers every five years, but now that has to be done annually.”
The five-day grace period with abbreviated training has also been eliminated, and workers must be trained before they work in an area where a pesticide has been used or a restricted-entry interval has been in effect in the past 30 days.
“Let’s say I have someone come out from the implement dealer to work on some of my equipment that happens to be in an area that was treated – I will have to train them first,” Kennedy remarks.
He continues, “It’s probably something that is going to affect people more than it appears at first glance.”
New topics have also been added to the previously required basic training items, including 11 topics for workers and 13 topics for handlers. New content will be required in all trainings by November 2017.
“There are now 23 topics for workers and 36 topics for handlers,” Kennedy says.
Record keeping requirements have also increased with the new EPA worker protection standards, for both training and hazard communication.
“Employers now have to keep training records for two years and have copies available for employees if they request them,” Kennedy says.
Previously, employers could have a voluntary certification card system, but they were not required to maintain records for their employees.
“We have to keep our application records and safety data sheets for two years after application as well. Probably one of the biggest changes is that we have to post a warning in the area where we have treated if the restricted-entry interval is more than 48 hours,” he adds.
New requirements also include the addition of a minimum age requirement and the suspension of pesticide application if other people are present in the application exclusion zone, an area up to 100 feet surrounding the application equipment.
“There is a minimum age of 18 for all handlers and anybody who will be in the area before the end of the restricted-entry interval,” Kennedy notes.
He also explains, “Applicators will have to shut down if they see people in the area that they are treating.”
Workers handling pesticides will be required to have the appropriate PPE, which includes meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and keeping records of employee PPE training.
“At the mixing or loading site, six gallons of water that can flow for 15 minutes must be available for each handler or applicator who is there. In other words, there has to be water on-site that is capable of flowing at 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes,” Kennedy explains.
This requirement pertains to eye wash systems for workers using products that require eye protection or use of pressurized closed systems. For these situations, workers are also required to have a pint of water with them at all times. One gallon of water for each worker and three gallons of water for each handler must be available for routine washing.
“The new rule goes into effect 60 days after publication. That is sometime in November,” Kennedy mentions. “Most of the provisions will apply one year from the publication date, so there are two seasons for training to get folks up to speed.”
There are also a number of provisions that will take affect in November 2017.