WPS

Updated: August, 2018

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a set of Federal standards designed to protect agricultural employees from occupational exposure to pesticides. The WPS was originally established in 1992 and revised in 2016. The new revisions go into effect in two stages. The first stage will go into effect January 2nd, 2017 and the second stage January 2nd, 2018. Below are some of the highlights of WPS. Not all the details are provided in this page, to get more detail see the code of federal regulation 170.

This manual provides a “hot to” guide for complying with the WPS: How to Comply with the Worker Protection Standard

PERC Quick Reference Guide

National Worker Protection Standard (WPS): A Manual for Trainers of Agricultural Workers and Pesticide Handlers (English) / Ley Nacional de Proteccion al Trabajador: Manual para Capacitoadores

Scope

This regulation covers pesticides that are used in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. So, if you employ people and use pesticides in the production of an agricultural commodity the WPS applies to you.

Definition of an Agricultural Plant:

“Agricultural plant” means any plant, or part thereof, grown, maintained, or otherwise produced for commercial purposes, including growing, maintaining or otherwise producing plants for sale or trade, for research or experimental purposes, or for use in part or their entirety in another location. Agricultural plant includes, but is not limited to, grains, fruits and vegetables; wood fiber or timber products; flowering and foliage plants and trees; seedlings and transplants; and turf grass produced for sod. Agricultural plant does not include pasture or range land used for grazing.

 

Who Needs Training?

Covered Employee Types

The WPS groups employees into two groups. 1. Workers and 2. Handlers.

  • Worker: Workers perform hand labor tasks such as harvesting, weeding or pruning in a pesticide treated area within 30 days after an application. Handlers must be at least 18 years of age (The minimum age rule is presently delayed and may change) but immediate family members are exempt from this requirement.
  • Handler: employees, including a self-employed person, who performs tasks that directly involve pesticides. Handlers are those who mix, load or apply a pesticide or work on pesticide application equipment. Handlers must be at a minimum 18 years old (The minimum age rule is presently delayed and may change).

Note that “Immediate Family” members are exempt from some (but not all) WPS requirements. Under the WPS, immediate family members include: spouse, parents, stepparents, foster parents, father-in-law, mother-in-law, children, stepchildren, foster children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins. NEW: first cousins were added, expanding the definition of immediate family.

Three Main Principles

The WPS uses three main principles to describe its requirements:

  • Information: Informing employees about the possible risks/hazards related to working with and around pesticides is the first step in them being able to avoid them. Some who may be employed may not have any knowledge of pesticides and not being informed may lead to an accident. If workers do not know that pesticides take time to breakdown and contact with plants, soil, equipment etc., they may not know how to avoid exposing themselves to pesticides after an application. Giving employees information includes annual training, posting the pesticide safety poster, and having a listing of what products have been used.
  • Protection: Employees may understand the possible risks/hazards related to working with and around pesticides, but if they are not provided the tools to avoid these risks/hazards accidents may happen. Employers must provide notification of which fields have been treated, provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels to the people who use pesticides.
  • Mitigation: No matter how well we train and prepare for accidents, they still can happen. If accidental exposure happens, it is important to have in place ways to reduce the impacts of those accidents. This includes supplying decontamination sites, eye flush supplies, transportation to medical facilities and having the information needed to facilitate medical help.

Let’s look at each of these with a little more detail.

Information

Annual Training

NEW: In the past, training had to be conducted every five years. The new rules require all workers and handlers to go through annual training.

*Restricted-Entry Interval

A restricted-entry interval (REI) is a specific time period (stated on the label) after the end of a pesticide application during which entry into the treated area is restricted. For example, a label might say to keep unprotected people out of the area for 24 hours after the application.

All handlers require annual training before they perform any pesticide handling activity. Workers must be trained before Must provide training before working in a pesticide-treated area tasks in treated areas or perform handler tasks.  A treated area is any area that has been treated with a pesticide up to 30 days after any “Restricted-Entry Interval*” expires. Workers or handlers that are certified applicators do not require annual training (their certification IS their training).

Who can Train

Any certified applicator (Private or Commercial) can provide the training. Individuals who have gone through an EPA-approved “Train the Trainer” program can also provide training. DATCP and the UW PAT Program recommends the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative’s online Course for educating people to become WPS trainers: [ PERK Online Training for Trainers ].

Training Requirements

  • EPA-Approved training materials have to be used in the training. These materials will cover the many topics that are required. As in the past, there will be movies available to use in training. These training materials are being developed by the Pesticide Educational Resource Collaborative. Click their logo below to go to the site.

Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC) banner and logo.

  • See Appendix A below for a detailed list of required training topics.
  • The trainer must be present during the whole training.
  • Training records have to be taken and kept by the employer for 2 years:
    • Employee’s name (printed and signature)
    • Date of training
    • Information identifying which EPA-approved training material was used
    • Trainer’s name and documents showing that the trainer met requirement (pesticide certification number, “train the trainer” certificate number)
    • Employer’s name
  • Training has to be given in a manner that the employees understand. Training materials will be provided in several different languages to aid in this.
  • Worker and handler training have many of the same requirements, however handler training is more extensive and covers topics that workers do not require.
  • Provide specific information to your employees regarding YOUR specific operation, for example, where your information will be posted, how you are going to notify them regarding treated areas, etc.

NEW: New topics were added. Warnings regarding take home exposure were strengthened. Warnings not to take pesticide or their containers home, information about laundering work clothes, the increased risks to pregnant women and children, etc.

The Safety Poster

NEW: The new safety poster is available and will require posting after Jan 2nd, 2018.  The poster is available at the PERC Web Site – Safety Poster

The safety poster is to be posted:

  • In a common area where employees will gather,
  • at permanent mixing & loading sites and,
  • at any decontamination site where 11 or more employees are working.

The safety poster should be filled out, providing the information for the nearest medical facility.

NEW: In the new poster and rules you will have to include the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s contact information. Each state will have different contact information.

Access to Specific Application Information

The WPS requires that specific application information be posted. This is to be posted in the general access location, typically where your safety poster is posted. Pesticides without a “Agricultural Use Requirements” do not have to be posted. However, if it is labeled in Agriculture, it probably has one of these.  The following information must be posted:

  • Location of treatment
  • Product name
  • EPA Registration Number
  • Active ingredients
  • Date and approx. start and stop times
  • Duration of Restricted-Entry Interval (REI)

This information has to be posted for 30 days after the last REI expires.

 

NEW: as part of WPS posting requirements, employers need to make Safety Data Sheets (SDS) of all agricultural use products available. You can find product SDSs at www.cdms.net or ask your dealer. One idea is to put all SDSs in a binder and leave that binder in the same location where you post your applications.

Notification

Agricultural employers must inform workers of where pesticide applications have taken place and of the entry restrictions for each situation. They must provide this notification before workers are within ¼ miles of the treated area if they are to be in contact with agricultural plants.Workers that do NOT come in contact with treated plants, soil, water, or equipment are exempt from this. There are different ways to notify workers (oral, posting warning signs, or both) and different situations when to use one method or another. See your training manual for more information about this notification.

NEW: the posting of signs is required if the label requires it (Dual Notice Products) or if the product being used has an REI greater than 48 hours (outdoor applications) or greater than 4 hours (enclosed applications).

 

Applications

Employees must assure that handlers under their employ are not applying pesticides in such a manner as to expose other handlers, workers or other people.

Notification to Commercial Applicators

If you contract with a commercial applicator it is your obligation to notify the employer of the commercial applicator if the applicator is to be within ¼ miles of any areas under a REI. You are also required to warn them of any restrictions that may be on the label.

Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) (This rule is presently been delayed for debate.)

The Application Exclusion None (AEZ)

NEW: The application exclusion zone is something that has been added with the latest WPS revision.

The AEZ is a 25 or 100 foot exclusion zone where if anybody (excluding the applicator) enters, the application has to stop. The application can continue once the applicator can assure there is no risk of exposure to other people. This requirement will go into effect January 2nd, 2018.

The AEZ can extend beyond the property line and includes workers and other persons (non-employees).

100 foot AEZ for the following applications – Aerially, air blast, fumigants, smoke, mist, or fogs. Fine sprays used (median diameter less than 294 microns).

25 foot AEZ for the following applications – Applications greater than 12  inches above the target with medium or larger droplet sizes. (Medium to coarse is given at volume median diameter greater than 294 microns. See the specs of the nozzles you are using for indications of droplet size.)

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide additional PPE other than everyday work clothes.

  • Shoes, socks, long pants, long sleeved shirt, everyday work clothes – Employees’ responsibility
  • Gloves, respirators, rubber boots, aprons, spray suits, coveralls, eye protection – Employer’s responsibility

Required PPE will be listed on the label of the product being used. Employer has to assure that the PPE is maintained in the recommended manner by the manufacturer and clean.

Respirators

When doing applications where the label requires respirators, an employer is responsible in assuring that respirators are provided, that the respirator fits the employee properly and are maintained according to the manufacturers specifications.

NEW: It is the employer’s responsibility to assure that employees receive respirator  fit-testing, training and medical evaluation.

Mitigation

No matter how well you prepare for an emergency or how you protect your employees, accidents can still happen. The WPS requires a standard of response when an accident occurs.

Decontamination Supplies

When a pesticide gets on our skin or in our eyes it starts to adsorb into our bodies. The hazard of this depends on many things including the specific product involved, the amount of exposure, and the product’s formulation. The longer that pesticide remains on our skin, the more that can potentially get into our bodies. Decontamination sites and supplies provided where workers and handlers are performing tasks expedites the removing of pesticides from the body.

Decontamination Supplies Include

Decontamination sites require the following:

  • 1 gallon of clean water / worker and 3 gallons / handler.
  • Plenty of soap.
  • Enough single-use towels to dry the body.
  • When using pressurized equipment or products that require eye protection, provided a system to flush eyes.
  • Provide coveralls or change of clothing for handlers.

Decontamination Supplies Location

Decontamination supplies have to be located within ¼ miles of workers and handlers working in treated areas. They also have to be provided at mixing and loading sites.

Medical Emergencies

if there is reason to believe that a worker or handler has been poisoned or injured by a pesticide used on the agricultural establishment the employer must make sure transportation to a medical facility is available. Employers can “make transportation available” by:

  • Taking the employee to the emergency medical facility.
  • Calling an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance.
  • Making sure the employee has a ride to the medical facility with someone else.

Take or send the following along to the medical facility:

  • the SDS
  • Product name, EPA registration number, and active ingredient(s)
  • Description of how the pesticide was used
  • How the employee might have become exposed to the pesticide

Retaliatory Responses

An employer can not retaliate for any of the provisions afforded to workers and handlers by the WPS.

Request for Information

Employers must provide application information to past employees or their representatives up to 2 years after employment. The rule about allowing a representative to request information has been reopened and is being debated.

APPENDIX A

The following is taken directly from the Federal Code of Regulations.

170.401(c)(2) Minimum training topic requirements for Workers

(i) Where and in what form pesticides may be encountered during work activities.

(ii) Hazards of pesticides resulting from toxicity and exposure, including acute and chronic effects, delayed effects, and sensitization.

(iii) Routes through which pesticides can enter the body.

(iv) Signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide poisoning.

(v) Emergency first aid for pesticide injuries or poisonings.

(vi) How to obtain emergency medical care.

(vii) Routine and emergency decontamination procedures, including emergency eye flushing techniques.

(viii) Hazards from chemigation and drift.

(ix) Hazards from pesticide residues on clothing.

(x) Warnings about taking pesticides or pesticide containers home.

(xi) Requirements of this subpart designed to reduce the risks of illness or injury resulting from workers’ occupational exposure to pesticides, including application and entry restrictions, the design of the warning sign, posting of warning signs, oral warnings, the availability of specific information about applications, and the protection against retaliatory acts.

EPA will provide Training materials that will cover the following:

(i) 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, and notifying workers of restrictions during applications and on entering pesticide treated areas. A worker or handler may designate in writing a representative to request access to pesticide  application and hazard information.

(ii) 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.

(iii) How to follow directions and/or signs about keeping out of pesticide treated areas subject to a restricted-entry interval and application exclusion zones.

(iv) 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 personal protective equipment, and that pesticides may drift through the air from nearby applications or be in irrigation water.

(v) Potential hazards from toxicity and exposure that pesticides present to workers and their families, including acute and chronic effects, delayed effects, and sensitization.

(vi) Routes through which pesticides can enter the body.

(vii) Signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide poisoning.

(viii) Emergency first aid for pesticide injuries or poisonings.

(ix) 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.

(x) How and when to obtain emergency medical care.

(xi) 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.

(xii) Wash or shower with soap and water, shampoo hair, and change into clean clothes as soon as possible after working in pesticide treated areas.

(xiii) Potential hazards from pesticide residues on clothing.

(xiv) Wash work clothes before wearing them again and wash them separately from other clothes.

(xv) Do not take pesticides or pesticide containers used at work to your home.

(xvi) 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:

(A) Display safety data sheets for all pesticides used on the establishment.

(B) Provide workers and handlers information about the location of the safety data sheets on the establishment.

(C) Provide workers and handlers unimpeded access to safety data sheets during normal work hours.

(xvii) 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.

(xviii) 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.

(xix) Potential hazards to children and pregnant women from pesticide exposure.

(xx) Keep children and nonworking family members away from pesticide treated areas.

(xxi) 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.

(xxii) How to report suspected pesticide use violations to the State or Tribal agency responsible for pesticide enforcement.

(xxiii) 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.

170.501 Training requirements for Handlers

 170.501(c)(2) Minimum training topic requirements

(i) Format and meaning of information contained on pesticide labels and in labeling, including safety information such as precautionary statements about human health hazards.

(ii) Hazards of pesticides resulting from toxicity and exposure, including acute and chronic effects, delayed effects, and sensitization.

(iii) Routes by which pesticides can enter the body.

(iv) Signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide poisoning.

(v) Emergency first aid for pesticide injuries or poisonings.

(vi) How to obtain emergency medical care.

(vii) Routine and emergency decontamination procedures.

(viii) Need for and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

(ix) Prevention, recognition, and first aid treatment of heat-related illness.

(x) Safety requirements for handling, transporting, storing, and disposing of pesticides, including general procedures for spill cleanup.

(xi) Environmental concerns such as drift, runoff, and wildlife hazards.

(xii) Warnings about taking pesticides or pesticide containers home.

(xiii) Requirements of this subpart that must be followed by handler employers for the protection of handlers and other persons, including the prohibition against applying pesticides in a manner that will cause contact with workers or other persons, the requirement to use personal protective equipment, the provisions for training and decontamination, and the protection against retaliatory acts.

EPA will provide Training materials that will cover the following:

(i) All the topics required by §170.401(c)(3). (same topics required for worker training), plus,

(ii) Information on proper application and use of pesticides.

(iii) Handlers must follow the portions of the labeling applicable to the safe use of the pesticide.

(iv) Format and meaning of information contained on pesticide labels and in labeling applicable to the safe use of the pesticide.

(v) Need for and appropriate use and removal of all personal protective equipment.

(vi) How to recognize, prevent, and provide first aid treatment for heat-related illness.

(vii) Safety requirements for handling, transporting, storing, and disposing of pesticides, including general procedures for spill cleanup.

(viii) Environmental concerns, such as drift, runoff, and wildlife hazards.

(ix) Handlers must not apply pesticides in a manner that results in contact with workers or other persons.

(x) The responsibility of handler employers to provide handlers with information and protections designed to reduce work-related pesticide exposures and illnesses. This includes providing, cleaning, maintaining, storing, and ensuring proper use of all required personal protective equipment; providing decontamination supplies; and providing specific information about pesticide use and labeling information.

(xi) Handlers must suspend a pesticide application if workers or other persons are in the application exclusion zone.

(xii) Handlers must be at least 18 years old.

(xiii) The responsibility of handler employers to ensure handlers have received respirator fit-testing, training and medical evaluation if they are required to wear a respirator by the product labeling.

(xiv) The responsibility of agricultural employers to post treated areas as required by this rule.