More than a dozen proposed changes to the agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) will better protect farm workers who work with pesticides, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.
Recommendations include more frequent mandatory trainings, expanded posting of no-entry signs on fields treated with chemicals and age restrictions for handling them. If adopted, it would mark the first time the rule has been updated in 20 years. The changes were developed based on a decade of research.
"What we don’t know is the exact total number of occupational incidences involving pesticides," says Jim Jones, assistant administrator, EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "These incidences lead to sick days, lost wages, medical bills and absences at school. What we have found is that the most common types of incidents can be prevented with changes to our current worker protection standard."
Click the play button below to hear an AgriTalk recording of Jones announcing the EPA proposals:
Farmers will be able to provide feedback on the recommendations during a public comment period scheduled to open within 10 days. In a comparisons document, EPA says the list of proposed changes includes:
- Requiring annual pesticide safety training for workers and handlers
- Expanding training content to include information on reducing take-home exposure
- Reducing the grace period for full WPS training from five days to two
- Requiring recordkeeping of training for two years
- Requiring posting of treated areas when the restricted-entry interval exceeds 48 hours
- Requiring pesticide handlers and early-entry workers to be age 16 or older, with the exception of an owner’s immediate family members
- Prohibiting entry into 25-100 foot buffer areas around the field during pesticide application on farms
- Adopting the OSHA standard for respirators
Click here for full background and documentation from the EPA.