Worker Protection Standard: Employer of Agricultural Workers FAQs | South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Worker Protection Standard: Employer of Agricultural Workers FAQs

Commercial handlers are those individuals that perform pesticide-handling tasks for compensation. This includes those individuals that are self employed or employed by someone else.

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires that commercial handlers receive the following protections:

Pesticide Safety Training

Licensed Commercial Applicators are considered to have received this protection as they have attended training courses to obtain certification and a commercial applicator license. It should be noted that anyone that applies a pesticide in return for compensation is required to hold a valid commercial applicator license.

Decontamination Sites

  • Decontamination sites are areas that have the necessary facilities to remove pesticides from your person after completing routine tasks or in the case of an emergency.
  • Decontamination sites must include:
    • Soap, Water, and Towels. Running water is preferable but if it is not possible, at least enough to wash and rinse hands and face. An ample supply of single use towels must also be provided.
    • Change of Clothes. A “one size fits all” coverall is suggested as this will suffice in the situation where someone may have gotten an excessive amount of pesticide in their clothes and must remove their clothes to avoid exposure.
    • Eye-Wash. There are many different types of eyewash devices available either portable or stationary. Choose an eyewash device that best suits the situation and practices of the operation.

Emergency Assistance

Providing emergency assistance is simply providing transportation to a medical facility or contacting an emergency vehicle to the scene. It is likely that this is available in most situations.

Restrictions During Applications

  • Pesticide handler employers and handlers must insure that pesticides do not contact anyone other than trained and appropriately equipped handlers during applications. This includes drift or any other means of transport.
  • When a pesticide handler is applying a pesticide with a skull & crossbones symbol, the WPS requires that someone check on the applicator (by sight or voice contact) at least once every two-(2) hours.
  • When a pesticide handler is applying a fumigant in a greenhouse the WPS requires that someone be in constant contact with the applicator. The person that is monitoring the applicator must be properly trained and have access to personal protective equipment required by the product labeling.

Instructions for Handlers

Commercial handler employers must make sure that handler employees are aware of specific information regarding pesticides and areas treated by a pesticide(s). This information includes:

  • Labeling Requirements for Safe Use.
  • Signal Word Meaning
  • Human Hazard Statements and Precautions
  • Personal Protective Equipment Requirements
  • First-Aid Instructions
  • Environmental Precautions
  • Additional Precautions Related to the Task

Commercial handler employers must also insure that employee’s are provided:

  • Access to Product Labeling
  • Instructions on Safe Use/Repair of Equipment, Including
      • Replace Damaged or Worn Parts
      • If it is not feasible to remove pesticides and residues from equipment prior to anyone other than appropriately trained individuals repairing, adjusting or cleaning equipment you must inform those individuals
        • That equipment may contain pesticides or residues
        • The potential of harmful effects
        • How to correctly handle such equipment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Employers of pesticide handlers must make sure that pesticide handlers:

  • Are provided with clean PPE required by the product labeling and that it is in good condition.
  • Properly use and wear PPE for the entire handling task.
  • Area provided with a clean place away from pesticide storage and handling areas to:
    • Store PPE
    • Put on and remove PPE
  • Take steps to prevent heat illness when PPE is being worn.
  • Do Not wear or take home contaminated PPE.

Employers are also responsible for cleaning, maintaining, and disposing of PPE.

Exceptions to PPE Use

Handler employers may allow handlers to omit some of the PPE listed on the pesticide labeling if the handlers are:

Using a closed handling system

When loading/mixing a pesticide not all PPE equipment is required depending on the signal words found on the labeling.

  • Signal words “Danger” or “Warning” the handler must ant least wear:
    • Long-Sleeved Shirt & Long pants
    • Shoes & Socks
    • Chemical-Resistant Apron
    • Protective Gloves
  • Signal Word “Caution” the handler must at least wear:
    • Long-Sleeved Shirt & Long pants
    • Shoes & Socks
  • Any other pesticide the handler must at least wear:
    • Long-Sleeved Shirt & Long pants
    • Shoes & Socks
  • NOTE: If the closed system is under pressure the handler must add protective eye wear.

Applying pesticides within an enclosed cab

  • Enclosed cabs are those that have a nonporous barrier that totally surround the occupants and prevent contact with pesticides outside the cab. In an enclosed cab, the applicator need not wear all PPE listed on the product labeling but must wear:
    • Long-Sleeved Shirt & Long pants
    • Shoes & Socks
  • NOTE: In enclosed cabs that do not provide respiratory protection, any respirator required by the product labeling must be worn.
  • Although reduced PPE may be worn by the applicator in an enclosed cab, the handler must:
    • Keep all PPE listed on the label available in the cab.
    • Wear all PPE listed on the label if necessary to leave the cab and contact treated surfaces
    • Remove PPE that was worn in treated areas
    • Store PPE in a chemical resistant container

Applying pesticides in a cockpit

  • In an open cockpit, the handler must wear:
    • Shoes & Socks instead of chemical resistant footwear
    • Helmet & Visor instead of chemical resistant hat or hood
    • Any PPE listed on the product labeling
  • In an enclosed cockpit, the handler need not wear all PPE listed on the product label but must wear:
    • Long-Sleeved Shirt & Long Pants
    • Shoes & Socks
  • NOTE: All persons applying pesticides in an aircraft must wear chemical resistant gloves when entering or leaving the aircraft and store those gloves in a chemical resistant container.

Why is it Necessary to Comply With the Worker Protection Standard as a Commercial Handler Employer?

Federal and state law requires that certain protections be provided to those that handle pesticides. The Worker Protection Standard provides a set of guidelines for employers to follow that not only protect their workers but also protect themselves. Anyone that is found not to be in compliance with the Worker Protection Standard is guilty of a Class II Misdemeanor and may be subject to further civil penalty. Although state and federal law require certain protections to be afforded to those individuals that are commercial handlers, the Worker Protection Standard provides sound practices to protect you and your employee’s from potential health risks associated with pesticide exposure. You are urged to obtain further information regarding the Worker Protection Standard.

United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver CO 80202-1129
P: 800.227.8917 F: 303.312.6044