EPA Proposes Changes to Protect Farm Workers from Pesticides

In a memo released last month, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) set forth a list of proposed changes designed to increase safety for farmers and agricultural workers dealing with pesticides.

Among the proposed changes…

  • Annual mandatory trainings (rather than once every 5 years) to inform farm workers about the protections they are afforded under the law , including restrictions on entering pesticide – treated fields and surrounding areas, decontamination supplies, access to information and use of personal protective equipment.
  • Expanded trainings will include instructions to reduce take – home exposure from pesticides on work clothing and other safety topics.
  • Expanded mandatory posting of no – entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides . The signs prohibit entry into pesticide – treated fields until residues decline to a safe level.
  • First – time ever minimum age requirement: Children under 16 will be prohibited from handling pesticides , with an exemption for family farms.
  • New no – entry 25 – 100 foot buffer areas surrounding pesticide – treated fields will protect workers and others from exposure from pesticide overspray and fumes.
  • Mandatory record – keeping to improve states’ ability to follow – up on pesticide violations and enforce compliance. Records of application – specific pesticide information as well as farmworker training and early – entry notification must be kept for two years.

Additional Proposed Changes

  • Personal Protection Equipment (respirator use) must be consistent with the Occupational Safety & Health administration standards for ensuring respirators are effective , including fit test, medical evaluation and training.
  • Requirement to make available to farm workers or their advocates (including medical personnel) information specific to the pesticide application, including the pesticide label and Safety Data Sheets.
  • Additional changes make the rule more practical and easier to comply with for farmers.
  • Continues the exemptions for family farms.

Download or view the entire document at http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/safety/workers/proposed/proposed-wps-factsheet.pdf

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