Worker Protection Standard: Employer of Crop Advisors FAQs | South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Worker Protection Standard: Employer of Crop Advisors FAQs

What is a Crop Advisor?

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) defines a “Crop Advisor” as “Any person who is assessing pest numbers or damage, pesticide distribution, or the status, condition, or requirements of agricultural plants”. Crop advisors are not individuals that perform task such as weeding, planting, cultivating, or harvesting. Examples of crop advisors include field scouts, crop consultants, and integrated pest management monitors.

What is an Independent (Commercial) Crop Advisor?

An Independent or Commercial Crop Advisor is a person who is working as a crop advisor but is employed (including self employed) by anyone other than the farm, ranch, forest, nursery, greenhouse or any other agricultural establishment where the work is being performed. Under the WPS, protections afforded to crop advisors employed by the agricultural establishment differ from those provided to independent or commercial crop advisors.

What Protections are Provided to Crop Advisors Under the Worker Protection Standard?

Generally speaking, crop advisors are provided with the same protections as Pesticide Handlers when they enter a treated area during or soon after a pesticide application including the time period when a Restricted Entry Interval is in effect. Employers of independent (commercial) crop advisors are not required to provide any protections under the WPS if there is no restricted entry interval or an application underway. Crop advisors that are employee’s of the farm, ranch, forest, nursery, or greenhouse are afforded the same protections as workers under the WPS. Conditional protections provided to crop advisors under the WPS include:

  • Information at a Central Location (Workers & Handlers)
    • WPS Safety Poster
    • List of Applications
    • Medical Facility or Emergency Assistance Contact
      • EXCEPTION: Employers of Independent (commercial) crop advisors are not required to provide this protection.
  • Pesticide Safety Training (Workers & Handlers)
    • Training may be conducted by the employer or someone qualified to perform the training.
    • Certified Applicator Training offered by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Service will also fulfill this requirement.
  • Decontamination Sites (Workers & Handlers)
    • 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 be provided to workers for 30 days following the end of the Restricted Entry Interval stated on the product labeling. For workers that enter treated areas prior to the Restricted Entry Interval, decontamination sites must be provided at the point of entry unless transportation is within 1/4 mile.
    • 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 (Workers & Handlers)
    • 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
    • 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.
      • EXCEPTION: Crop advisors entering a treated area during a Restricted Entry Interval need not be monitored.
  • Instructions for Handlers
    • 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
      • Access to Product Labeling
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Crop advisors who enter a treated area during a restricted entry interval, and whose activities involve contact with anything that is treated with a pesticide may wear the PPE listed on the product label for early entry tasks instead of the PPE listed for handling tasks. If a crop advisor enters the treated area prior to the restricted entry interval and there is no contact to treated surfaces, no PPE is required. Employers of crop advisors (handlers) are required to provide the following protections if PPE is necessary.
      • Clean PPE required by the product labeling and that it is in good condition.
      • Wear PPE for the entire handling task and that it is properly used.
      • A clean place away form 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.

Why is it Necessary to Comply With the Worker Protection Standard as a Crop Advisor Employer?

Federal and state law requires that certain protections be provided to those that handle pesticides (handlers) or work in areas treated with pesticides (workers). Crop Advisors can be defined as “Workers” or “Handlers” depending on the situation. 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 employees 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