Worker Protection Standard Policy
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a Federal regulation designed to protect agricultural workers (people involved in producing agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people directly involved with pesticide contact).
This program is not only a good idea, but it's the law. The following information is presented in good faith for the reader's clarification and guide to appropriately use pesticides labeled for agricultural and household and structural use. This information does not take the place of the product labels. Always read and follow the current label directions for each pesticide that is applied. Also, check with your local Cooperative Extension Service Office to see if any amendments or additions to this law have occurred.
The following guidelines summarize the WPS. For a more complete reference, refer to a current copy of the Reference Guide for EPA's Worker Protection Standard. Copies can be obtained from various chemical supply dealers and local Cooperative Extension Service offices.
Duties for all Employees (summarized):
- Anti-retaliation. Do not retaliate against anyone who attempts to comply with the WPS.
- Information at a central location. In an easily seen central location, display the following information:
- EPA WPS safety poster
- Emergency medical information
- From before application until 30 days after the restricted-entry interval (REI), post the product name, EPA number, active ingredient, location of treated area, time and date of application and REI.
- Pesticide safety training. Unless they possess a valid EPA approved training card, train handlers and workers before they begin work at least once every five years. Review EPA reference guide for training procedures.
- Decontamination sites. Establish decontamination sites within 1/4 mile of all workers and handlers, and provide water, soap, towel and coveralls.
- Employer information exchange.
- Before application, inform the farm operator about the location of the treated area, time and date of application, product name, EPA number, active ingredient, REI, whether oral warnings and treated posted signs are needed, and all other safety requirements on label.
- Farm operators must make sure any commercial pesticide operator is aware of all the areas on the farm where pesticides will be applied or where an REI will be in effect while the commercial handler is present, and the restrictions on entering those areas.
- Emergency assistance. When handler or worker may have been poisoned or injured by pesticides, promptly make transportation available to a medial facility and provide the following the victim and medical personnel: product name, EPA number, active ingredients, all first aid information from the product label, description of application procedures and victim's exposure.
Additional Duties for Employers for Workers (summarized):
- Restrictions during application.
- Allow entry only to trained and properly equipped handlers in treated areas.
- Keep nursery workers at least 100 feet from treated areas.
- Allow only handlers in a greenhouse during pesticide application and until labeling-listed air concentration level is met.
- Restricted-entry intervals (REI's). During any REI, do not allow workers to enter the treated area without label-specified personal protective equipment.
- Notice about applications.
- Orally warn workers and post treated areas, if label requires.
- Otherwise, either orally warn workers or post entrances to treated areas.
- Post all greenhouse applications.
- Posted warning signs.
- Post legible 14-inch x 16-inch WPS signs just before application, and keep posted during REI. Remove within three days after REI.
- Post signs so they can be seen at all entrances to treated areas.
- Oral warnings.
- Before each application, tell workers the location of treated areas, REI, and do not enter during REI.
- Workers arriving after application starts must receive the same warning.
Additional Duties for Employers of Handlers (summarized):
- Application restrictions and monitoring.
- Do not apply pesticides such that they contact anyone other than equipped handlers.
- Make sight or voice contact every two hours with handlers applying highly toxic pesticides.
- Make sure trained and equipped handlers makes constant voice or visual contact with any handler in greenhouse.
- Specific instructions for handlers.
- Before handlers begin task, inform them of all pesticide labeling safety instructions.
- Keep pesticide labeling accessible.
- Before handlers use equipment, inform them of its safe use.
- Inform commercial handlers about the areas to be treated or where an REI will be in effect, and restrictions on entering those areas.
- Equipment safety.
- Inspect handling equipment before each use.
- Allow only trained and equipped handlers to repair, clean or adjust equipment.
- Duties related to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Provide handlers with the PPE the label requires.
- Be sure respirators fit correctly.
- Take steps to avoid heat illness.
- Provide handlers a pesticide-free area for storing personal clothing.
- Do not allow used PPE to be worn home.
- Care of PPE.
- Store and wash PPE separately.
- If PPE will be reused, clean it in accordance with labeling specifications.
- Dry the clean PPE before storing.
- Store clean PPE away from other clothing.
- Replacing respirator purifying elements.
- Replace dust/mist filter when breathing becomes difficult, they become damaged, when the label specifies, or at the end of the work period.
- Replace vapor-removing cartridges when odor or irritation is noticed, when label specifies, or at the end of the work period in the absence of other instructions.
- Disposal of PPE.
- Discard coveralls and other materials that are heavily contaminated with undiluted pesticides that have Danger or Warning signal word.
- Follow Federal, State and local laws on disposal.
- Instructions for people who clean PPE. Inform the people who clean PPE that they may be contaminated, there is a potentially harmful effect to exposure, how to protect themselves when handling PPE, and how to clean PPE correctly.