Worker Protection Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Worker Protection Standard (WPS), was revised in 2015 by Executive Order. WPS must be complied with when pesticides are used on agricultural establishments, including farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses, for the commercial or research production of agricultural plants. The WPS requires employers to provide agricultural workers and pesticide handlers with protections against possible harm from pesticides. Persons who must comply with these instructions include owners or operators of agricultural establishments and owners or operators of commercial businesses that are hired to apply pesticides on the agricultural establishment or to perform crop-advising tasks on such establishments. Agricultural Commodities (Plants) that are produced on an Agricultural Establishment (farm) using pesticides for their production make the owner and/or management of the operation subject to the WPS. Previously exempted operations, such as those that did not sell an agricultural commodity (similar to a dairy or feedlot) but still raise and agricultural commodity for feed or otherwise used in the enterprise are now subject to WPS.

Program Requirements

  • Agricultural Workers and Pesticide Handlers must be provided with required annual pesticide safety training before you begin working in treated areas. 
  • Certified pesticide applicators with state licenses are exempt from training.
  • Training must be conducted using EPA approved materials that are managed by a certified pesticide applicator, see training tab for more information. Central posting materials must be displaced in an easily accessible location. 
  • Central posting information must include the following elements:
    • Hazard information - Safety Data Sheets
    • Pesticide application records Product name, EPA registration number, and active ingredients
    • Crop or site treated Location and description of the treated area Dates and times of pesticide applications, including when applications begin and end
    • Duration of the REI
  • Safety Information Posting - WPS safety poster or other materials that have the required information, including:
    • Name, address, and telephone number of nearby emergency medical facility 
    • Contact information for the state or tribal pesticide regulatory agency
  • Provide decontamination supplies
  • Provide emergency assistance
  • Post warning signs at treated areas

 

Definitions

WPS defines two types of employees depending on the type of activities they will be performing when working with agricultural commodities.

Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers are those who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting agricultural plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries, or forests.

  • Workers include anyone employed by the university or receive benefits such as financial aid, or type of compensation when doing tasks such as:
    • Carrying nursery stock
    • Repotting plants
    • Watering
    • Other tasks directly related to the production of agricultural plants on an agricultural establishment.
  • Volunteers and students that participate in crop advising tasks constitute an agricultural worker and are required to receive WPS training

Agricultural Plant

An agricultural plant is any plant, or part thereof, grown, maintained, or otherwise produced for commercial purposes, including growing, maintaining or otherwise producing plants for sale, trade, for research or experimental purposes, or for use in part or their entirety in another location. Agricultural plant includes, but is not limited to, grains, fruits, and vegetables; wood fiber or timber products; flowering and foliage plants and trees; seedlings and transplants; and turf grass produced for sod. Agricultural plant does not include pasture or rangeland used for grazing.

Pesticide Handler

Pesticide handlers are those who:

  • Mix, load or apply agricultural pesticides.
  • Clean or repair pesticide application equipment
  • Assist with the application of pesticides

Those that receive pesticide handlers training does not need to receive Agricultural worker training.

Visitors and Students

Visitors and students are those that do not participate in the production of plants but enter an agricultural establishment for educational or commercial purposes.

Training

There is no grace period for new employees in receiving WPS training. Everyone must complete either Agricultural Worker or Pesticide Handler training before work begins in an agricultural establishment or in crop advising activities.

Both trainings are offered in-person via Zoom. To register for these trainings, contact either Brayden George or Michael Dyer:

Agricultural Worker Training

This training must be completed on an annual basis for all workers who meet the definition of an agricultural worker.

Pesticide Handler Training

This training must be completed on an annual basis for all workers who meet the definition of a pesticide handler. A pesticide handler does not need to receive Agricultural Worker Training.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions about EPA WPS compliance, please contact either Brayden George or Michael Dyer: