PESTICIDE SAFETY TRAINING

Pesticide products are used in excess of one billion pounds per year in the United States according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Despite potentially serious hazards to human health, these chemicals are used in nearly all fields where crops are harvested, placing farmworkers at the greatest risk for health issues related to pesticide exposure.

A pesticide is any chemical used to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate pests. They might be used to control insects, mice and other animals, weeds, or fungi. Pesticides also are used to kill organisms that can cause diseases such as bacteria and viruses, including those in hospital and medical environments. Pesticides products contain both active ingredients and inactive, or inert, ingredients. These chemicals may be harmful to people, animals, or the environment, depending on how they are used.

To ensure appropriate precautions are taken by the people laboring in the fields, training is vital. Since 1995, the Assciation of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) has partnered with the EPA to provide farmworker training on the Worker Protection Standard  (WPS), designed to reduce pesticide-related fatalities and injuries among individuals working in agricultural occupations.

Due to the health risks of pesticide exposure, AFOP continuously provides WPS training through its National Farmworker Training Program  network of trainers.  The number of states and trainers varies, but on average AFOP is able to reach over 45,000 farmworkers a year.

WHAT ARE PESTICIDES?

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for: 

  • preventing, destroying, repelling and mitigating any pest.
  • Use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.
  • Use as a nitrogen stabilize

Learn more here!

APPLICATION METHODS

  • Aerial Spraying
  • Backpack Spraying
  • Tractor Spraying
  • Irrigation
  • Fumigation
  • Pellets

Learn more here!

TYPE OF PESTICIDES

  • Insecticides
  • Herbicides
  • Fungicides
  • Rodenticides
  • Germicides

Learn more here!

ROUTES PESTICIDES CAN ENTER YOUR BODY

How can pesticides enter our body?

  • Ingestion:  through the mouth
  • Inhalation: through the nose and/or mouth
  • Ocular: through the eyes
  • Derma: through the skin

Learn more here!

PESTICIDES EXPOSURE HEALTH SYMPTOMS

Anyone who may become exposed to pesticides should be aware of the signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Prompt action during pesticide overexposure can prevent serious consequences.

Many pesticide exposure symptoms will show up immediately following  an exposure incident; other symptoms can be delayed and result in
long-term (chronic) health effects or chemical sensitivity.

More info here!

IMMEDIATE OR ACUTE HEALTH EFFECTS

DELAYED, LONG-TERM
OR CHRONIC HEALTH EFFECTS

SENSITIZATION

  • Acute illness or injury occurs shortly after or within 24 hours following an exposure. These illnesses or injuries can be serious and may result in lost work time and/or medical treatment. In the most serious cases, acute health effects could result in death.
  • Long-term or chronic effects are illnesses or injuries that develop or persist over long periods of time. They may result from a single exposure incident involving an extremely toxic pesticide or a large amount of pesticide. It may also result from many repeated exposures at a level that is too low to produce noticeable immediate illnesses or injuries.
  • Sensitization is the gradual development of an allergic reaction to a type of pesticide or chemicals in general. Some people get headaches, rashes, or experience dizziness each time they work with a pesticide or enter an area where pesticides were recently used.
  • nausea
  • headache or dizziness
  • red or watery eyes
  • rash, irritated, or burning skin
  • throat irritation or difficulty breathing
  • cancer
  • fertility problems
  • respiratory illness
  • nervous system disorders
  • birth defects
  • damage to the organs or immune system
  • skin disorders
  • Workers and handlers may better understand sensitization if it is compared to an allergic reaction to poison oak or poison ivy. Not everyone will have an adverse skin reaction the first few times they come in contact with the plants. However, after repeated exposures some people will become sensitized and develop a rash that becomes worse with each additional exposure.
  • Some people will experience sensitization after working with a product for several years. Not everyone will develop a sensitivity to pesticides, but those who do should avoid exposure to the pesticide creating the adverse reaction.

PESTICIDES & FARMWORKERS

  • The EPA estimates that 300,000 farmworkers are poisoned by pesticides each year.
  • The most common route of pesticide exposure is through the skin.
  • According to the Environmental Working Group celery, peaches, strawberries, apples and blueberries contain the highest amounts of pesticides of all fruits and vegetables.
  • Pesticide exposure is linked to devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and many kinds of cancer including brain, stomach, kidney, and leukemia.
  • Pesticides can affect fertility for both men and women.
  • You can find pesticides in your own home in products such as bleach and other household cleaners and OFF, Raid, and other insect killers.
  • Farmworkers can better protect themselves against the hazards of pesticide exposure by wearing gloves, pants, and long-sleeved shirts.

WORKER PROTECTION STANDARD


EPA’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The WPS offers occupational protections to over 2 million agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply crop pesticides) who work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments (farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses).

On November 2, 2015, EPA revised the WPS to implement more protections for agricultural workers, handlers and their families. The WPS revisions are intended to decrease pesticide exposure incidents among farmworkers and their family members. Fewer incidents means a healthier workforce and avoiding lost wages, medical bills and absences from work and school.

ABOUT WPS…

WHAT’S THE WPS?

EPA’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The WPS offers occupational protections to over 2 million agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply crop pesticides) who work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments (farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses).

Learn more HERE!

WHAT DOES THE WPS REQUIRE?

The requirements in the WPS are intended to inform workers and handlers about pesticide safety, provide protections from potential exposure to pesticides, and mitigate exposures that do occur.  Learn more HERE!

Inform

  • Pesticide safety training for workers and handlers.
  • Access to specific information for workers and handlers, including:
    • pesticide applications on the establishment;
    • safety data sheets for pesticides applied on the establishment; and
    • pesticide safety information (poster) that includes emergency information.
  • Access to labeling information for pesticide handlers and early-entry workers.
  • Notify workers about pesticide-treated areas so they can avoid inadvertent exposures.
  • Information exchange between agricultural employers and commercial pesticide handler employers.

Protect

  • Keep workers and other people out of areas being treated with pesticides.
  • Keep workers and other people away from pesticide application equipment (out of the application exclusion zones) during applications.
  • Handlers suspend applications if workers or people are near pesticide application equipment (in the application exclusion zone) during applications.
  • Keep workers out of areas that are under a restricted-entry interval (REI), with a few narrow exceptions.
  • Protect early-entry workers who are doing permitted tasks in pesticide-treated areas during an REI, including special instructions and duties related to correct use of personal protective equipment.
  • Monitor handlers using highly toxic pesticides.
  • Provide and maintain required personal protective equipment to handlers.
  • If a respirator is required by a pesticide label, provide the handler with a medical evaluation, fit test and respirator training.

Mitigate

  • Decontamination supplies including a sufficient supply of water, soap and towels for routine washing and emergency decontamination and eyewash systems for certain handlers.
  • Emergency assistance by making transportation available to a medical care facility in case of a pesticide injury or poisoning, and providing information about the pesticide(s) to which the person may have been exposed.

WPS IMPORTANT POINTS

Handlers and workers must be trained at least once every five years, counting from the end of the month in which the previous training was completed.

The pesticide safety training materials for workers and handlers must be either:

  • WPS training materials developed by EPA; or
  • Equivalent WPS training material that contains at least the following information:
    • For workers:
      • Where and in what form pesticides may be encountered during work activities.
      • Hazards of pesticides resulting from toxicity and exposure, 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.
      • How to obtain emergency medical care.
      • Routine and emergency decontamination procedures including emergency eye flushing techniques.
      • Hazards from chemigation and drift.
      • Hazards from pesticide residues on clothing.
      • Warnings about taking pesticides or pesticide containers home.
      • Requirements of the WPS 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.
    • For handlers:
      • Format and meaning of information on the product label, including safety information.
      • Hazards of pesticides resulting from toxicity and exposure, 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.
      • How to obtain emergency medical care.
      • Routine and emergency decontamination procedures including emergency eye flushing techniques.
      • Need for and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
      • Prevention, recognition and first aid treatment of heat-related illness.
      • Safety requirements for handling, transporting, storing, and disposing of pesticides, including general procedures for spill cleanup.
      • Environmental concerns such as drift, runoff and wildlife hazards.
      • Warnings about taking pesticides or pesticide containers home.
      • An explanation of WPS requirements that handler employers must follow for the protection of handlers and others, including the:
        • prohibition against applying pesticides in a manner that will cause contact with workers or other persons;
        • requirement to use PPE;
        • provisions for training and decontamination; and
        • protection against retaliatory acts.

WHO IS COVERED BY THE WPS?

The WPS requires owners and employers on agricultural establishments and commercial pesticide handling establishments to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides.  The WPS protections cover two types of employees:

  • Pesticide handlers: those who mix, load, or apply agricultural pesticides; clean or repair pesticide application equipment; or assist with the application of pesticides.
  • Agricultural workers: those who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries, or for

More information about who is covered by the WPS and responsibilities of employers.

DOES THE WPS APPLY TO YOU?

Not sure if you must comply with EPA’s WPS regulations?  Take a quick test to find out!

Click HERE to start!

WHO NEEDS TO BE TRAINED?

Agricultural workers and handlers need WPS training annually if they will be working in treated areas on an restricted-entry interval (REI) has been in effect. Currently certified Handlers must be trained before doing any handling task.

  • Early-entry workers who will contact anything that has been treated with the pesticide while the restricted-entry interval (REI) is in effect must be trained before they do any early-entry task.
  • Other agricultural workers, including early-entry workers who will not contact anything that has been treated with the pesticide while the REI is in effect, must be trained before they accumulate more than five separate days of entry into pesticide-treated areas after the REI expires. These five days of entry need not be consecutive and are not limited to a growing season or calendar year.
    Note: Untrained workers must be provided with basic pesticide safety information before they enter into pesticide-treated areas on the establishment.

  • Learn more at PERC‘s website

    WPS EXEMPTIONS

    Learn more HERE!


    WPS exemption for owners of agricultural establishments and their immediate family:

    The WPS does not provide an exception for “family farms” per se. The revised WPS exempts owners of agricultural establishments and members of their immediate family from certain requirements, as does the original WPS. It is important to note that: (1) no agricultural establishments that use WPS-covered pesticides are completely exempt from the WPS requirements, (2) owners/agricultural employers must provide full WPS protections for workers
    and handlers who are not in the owners’ immediate families, and (3) even owners and their immediate family members that qualify for the exemption must comply with some of the WPS requirements.

    The key changes to the exemption for owners of agricultural establishments and their immediate family include the following:

    The definition of immediate family has been expanded to include: grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins. “First cousin” means the child of a parent’s sibling, i.e., the child of an aunt or uncle. This revised definition means more establishments qualify for the exemption and more owners and family members are exempt from many of the provisions of the new regulation.
    An exemption from the minimum age for handlers and early-entry workers has been added for owners and members of their immediate families.
    The exemption applies when a majority of the establishment is owned by persons who are “immediate family” members as defined in the WPS. EPA’s previous interpretation of the exemption required the establishment to be wholly owned by immediate family members
    The complete terms of WPS exemption for owners of agricultural establishments and their immediate family is in the final rule at § 170.601(a).

    FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS

    Please view the document produced by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  HERE!

    PESTICIDE EXPOSURE FACTS

    Pesticides are designed to kill “pests”, but some pesticides can also cause health effects in people. Some health effects from pesticide exposure may occur right away while other effects may not be noticed for years, for example cancer. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should check with their doctors before working with pesticides as some pesticides may be harmful to the fetus (unborn baby) or to breast-fed infants. Oral poisoning can be caused by: Not washing hands before eating, drinking, smoking or chewing. Oral poisoning can be caused by: Mistaking the pesticide for food or drink. Oral poisoning can be caused by: Accidentally applying pesticides to food. Oral poisoning can be caused by: Carelessly splashing pesticide into the mouth. Dermal poisoning can be caused by: Not washing hands after handling pesticides or their containers. Dermal poisoning can be caused by: Splashing or spraying pesticides on unprotected skin or eyes. Dermal poisoning can be caused by: Wearing pesticide-contaminated clothing (including gloves and boots). Dermal poisoning can be caused by: Applying pesticides in windy weather. Dermal poisoning can be caused by: Wearing inadequate protective clothing and equipment during mixing and application. Inhalation poisoning can be caused by: Prolonged exposure to pesticides in closed or poorly ventilated spaces. Inhalation poisoning can be caused by: Accidentally breathing vapors from fumigants and other toxic pesticides. Inhalation poisoning can be caused by: Breathing fumes, dust or mist during application without appropriate protective equipment. Inhalation poisoning can be caused by: Inhaling fumes present immediately after a pesticide is applied (reentering the area too soon). Inhalation poisoning can be caused by: Not having a good seal on your respirator or using an old or inadequate cartridge or canister.

    DOWNLOAD

    WPS MATERIALS HERE:

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    *The WPS Flipchart has been approved by EPA, it cannot be altered otherwise it will have to be re-submitted to EPA for a new approval number. 

    **To use and/or re-use the flipchart illustrations please submit a request to Melanie Forti at forti@afop.org

    CHECK OUR PESTICIDE SAFETY SHORT VIDEOS!