If you farm or ranch, or own a nursery or greenhouse, have employees, and apply pesticides, this information applies to you. The new rule goes into effect on January 1, 2017.
The original version of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rule was passed into law in 1992 and was designed to protect ag workers who may work with or come into contact with pesticides.
Employers are responsible for compliance with the WPS. This includes:
- Owners/employers of and on agricultural establishments that grow and harvest for commercial production
- Employers of researchers who help grow and harvest plants
- Employers at commercial pesticide handling establishments
- Cooperative programs (community gardens, etc.) in which the growers themselves make or arrange for pesticide applications
The WPS protects employees from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides, including employees who:
- Mix, load, or apply pesticides (ie. handler employees)
- Clean or repair pesticide equipment
- Perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants (ie. worker employees)
- Office employees, truck drivers, mechanics, etc
- Certified crop advisors
- Owners and immediate family members (as defined by EPA)
The new rule updates go into effect on January 1, 2017. The complete 128 page "How to Comply" manual from the EPA is available here. The rule is based on the three principles of Inform, Protect, and Mitigate.
- Provide annual training for ag workers on the farm, by a certified trainer, in a format the students can understand
- Trainers can be certified private or commercial applicators, or be certified by the state (an online WPS training that meets Wyoming state requirements is available from Iowa State University at no cost)
- Post pesticide safety information at a central location and decontamination sites
- Post pesticide application information at a central location
- Notify of workers about treated areas
- Exclude workers and others from areas being treated with pesticides, or under an REI.
- Exclude workers and others from the application exclusion zone (AEZ)
- Ensure all employees who might be exposed to pesticides are 18 years or older
- Provide and maintain appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees
- Provide very specific decontamination and eye wash supplies, as specified in the "How to Comply" manual (eg., one gallon of clean water per worker and three gallons per handler)
- Provide emergency assistance and transportation to hospital if needed
- WPS quick reference guide for agriculture employers that condenses the 128 page manual into two pages
- Checklists for employers
- Videos that can be used to meet the annual training requirement for ag workers
For help with WPS interpretation and compliance, contact Hank Uhden with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.