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EPA Worker Protection Standard

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) for agricultural pesticides is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The WPS offers protections to approximately 2.5 million people that work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments. See the EPA website for more information.

You must comply with the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) if:

  • You own, operate or are employed on any farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse where pesticides are used in the production of agricultural plants
  • You hire or provide employees for any agricultural business which uses pesticides
  • You or anyone who you employ is a certified/licensed crop advisor

Even if you are covered by the family exemption, you must still:

  • Use the required personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Prevent pesticide contact (directly or through drift) during application
  • Ensure that you or anyone else not correctly trained and equipped is kept out of areas being treated with pesticides
  • Maintain Restricted Entry Intervals (REI’s)
  • Maintain no-contact Early Entry
  • Maintain short-term agricultural emergency or specially excepted early entry with proper PPE

Only immediate family members qualify under the family exemption. These include spouses, children, stepchildren, foster children, parents, stepparents, foster parents, and siblings.

Information, protection, and mitigation are the three main aspects of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS).

1) Information:

  • Conduct safety training for handlers and workers.
  • Display the EPA-approved safety poster.
  • Provide access to labeling information for handlers and early-entry workers.
  • Provide access to the Central Information Location.

2) Protection:

  • Prohibit handlers from applying a pesticide that will expose workers or other persons.
  • Exclude workers from areas being treated with pesticides.
  • Exclude workers from areas under a Restricted Entry Interval (REI).
  • Equip early-entry workers with proper safety training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Notify workers of where applications have or are taking place.
  • Protect handlers during handling tasks.
  • Take action to help protect workers from heat illness.

3) Mitigation:

  • Provide decontamination supplies of water, soap, single use towels, and spare overalls.
  • Provide emergency transportation to the hospital for employees who have been exposed to pesticides.