Be aware of changes to EPA’s Worker Protection Standard January 2017
These meetings and resources will help growers who use pesticides comply with changes to the federal Worker Protection Standard.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made a significant number of changes to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) that were put into effect in 1992. The new changes require growers of agricultural crops, including greenhouses and nurseries, to be compliant starting Jan. 2, 2017.
Changes in the new rules include:
- Worker training
- Hazard communication
- Notification of treated areas
- Minimum age for handlers and early entry workers
- Entry restrictions during applications for outdoor production
- Handler suspends application in certain situations
- Exemptions and exceptions
- Basic pesticide safety information
- Personal protective equipment
- Decontamination supplies
- Emergency assistance
- Definitions of “family,” “enclosed space production” and “employ”
Michigan State University Extension is offering EPA WPS Outreach Sessions throughout Michigan in January 2017 to help growers understand the changes. These sessions will take place Jan. 10 in Clarksville, Jan. 17 in Traverse City, Jan. 24 in Benton Harbor and Jan. 31 in New Era. Visit EPA WPS Outreach Sessions to register and for more information.
The Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative has some excellent written materials to help you comply with the changes, including checklists to be sure you have covered all the changes, an employee training video for worker training and the “How to Comply With the 2015 Revised Worker Protection Standard For Agricultural Pesticides” manual. This updated manual supersedes the 2005 version. Changes to the Standard have made the 2005 version obsolete. The revised “How to Comply” manual includes:
- Details to help you determine if the WPS requirements apply to you.
- Information on how to comply with the WPS requirements, including exemptions, exceptions, restrictions, options and examples.
- A “Quick Reference Guide,” which is a list of the basic requirements (excluding exemptions, exceptions, etc.).
- New or revised definitions that may affect your WPS responsibilities.
- Explanations to help you better understand the WPS requirements and how they may apply to you.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development enforces the WPS rules in Michigan. They have completed planned use inspections with many growers over the past few years as a method to see how growers are complying with the Standards.
I encourage you to review the changes and be in a position to implement them when your workers show up Jan. 2, 2017.