EPA revises worker protection rules for pesticide handlers, agriculture workers

The Environmental Protection Agency's revised Worker Protection Standard rules ensuring safeguards for pesticide handlers and agricultural workers will go into effect by January 2017.

Changes include:
--pesticide handlers and early entry workers must be at least 18;
--agricultural workers and pesticide handlers must receive annual safety training with expanded content;
--the grace period for new employees is eliminated;
--workers must be trained before entering areas that have been restricted due to pesticide application during the past 30 days;
--safety data sheets must be posted with the pesticide application information and a safety poster must be displayed at a central location;
--if required to use a respirator, handlers must have a medical evaluation, fit test and training;
--outdoor production areas will require posting with warning signs if the pesticide used has a restricted entry interval exceeding 48 hours;
--records of pesticide applications, training verification, and respirator compliance must be maintained for two years; and
--workers or their designated representative may request pesticide application records.

The family exemption will expand to include in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins.

“The biggest impact will be on horticultural growers who have many workers harvesting crops and maintaining plants,” Mary Ann Rose, program director for Ohio State University Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program, said. She noted that the rules also apply to agronomic crop production, although fewer workers in that field will be impacted.

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