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Pesticides are used in agricultural establishments to increase crop production, preserve produce, combat insect infestations, and control exotic species. However, pesticides can sicken people, and agricultural and pesticide workers are at an increased risk of injury or poisoning from pesticide handling.
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) aims to reduce the incidence of pesticide poisonings and injuries through comprehensive safety training. This online training course highlights the compliance requirements of the WPS that are detailed in 40 CFR 170.
By law, agricultural employers must provide information, equipment, and safety training necessary to protect their employees from the harmful effects of pesticides. Our pesticide worker training online certification course focuses on the protection and mitigation measures needed to limit the negative effects of pesticide exposure, as well as guidelines for basic emergency first aid.
What are the governing regulations? The Environmental Protection Agency issues the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to reduce the risk of illness and injury resulting from the use of pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. Full details of the WPS are found in 40 CFR 170.
Who must take this training? Anyone who is exposed to pesticides on the job, including workers who must enter pesticide-treated areas to perform urgent tasks, should understand the hazards of unsafe exposure to pesticides and be familiar with safe work practices that minimize the risk of poisoning or injury.
Individuals who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants on farms, greenhouses, nurseries, or forests should undergo pesticide worker hazards safety training. This includes anyone (even those who are self-employed) performing tasks such as carrying nursery stock, repotting plants, watering, or other tasks directly related to the production of agricultural plants on an agricultural establishment. Some requirements apply to anyone doing certain tasks, such as handling pesticide application equipment or cleaning or laundering pesticide-contaminated personal protective equipment.
Case Study: A 55-year-old man who worked in a vineyard was sent to the doctor by his employer after developing an intensely itchy rash on his arms. The man had worked in a crew of more than 30 employees, and was the only one who developed a rash. Doctors concluded that the worker had allergic sensitivity to sulfur, the only pesticide used in the vineyard, which had been applied a full three weeks prior. The man was removed from work for a week and underwent treatment with oral and topical steroids.
Key Takeaway: Allergic reactions to pesticides can be unpredictable, with some workers suffering unusually high sensitivities to certain chemicals or chemical combinations. Just because a worker is the only one of his or her coworkers who is exhibiting symptoms does not mean that he or she is not experiencing pesticide poisoning or injury. His or her employer must provide the standard WPS mitigation measures, including medical assistance.