Attention, Attention, Attention – Read all about it – Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is changing!

Posted by Martha Glenn, Ornamental Horticulture Agent

In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented Agricultural Worker Protection Standards (WPS).  These federal regulations are designed to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers (people working in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply pesticides to these crops).  WPS requirements are intended to inform the agriculture workers and handlers about pesticide safety, provide for the protection of exposure of pesticides, and to mitigate cases of exposure to these pesticides if they occur.    Many of these WPS regulations are changing on January 2, 2017.  Some of these changes are:

  • Annual WPS training for all workers
  • No grace period for training workers before they are allowed to work in areas where pesticides have been used or where a restricted-entry interval has been in effect in the past thirty days
  • Minimum age of a handler of pesticides and early entry workers will be eighteen
  • Establishment of no-entry application-exclusion zones (up to 100 feet surrounding pesticide application equipment)
  • Handlers must suspend the application of pesticides if a worker or other person is in the application exclusion zone
  • Mandatory record keeping of WPS training of agricultural workers for two years
  • Post warning signs if the re-entry interval (REI) is four hours or more in an enclosed space application (for example a greenhouse) or the REI is greater that forty-eight hours in an outdoor application.

These new guidelines also make it necessary for all previously certified WPS Train the Trainers to be recertified with the new EPA educational material by January 2, 2017.  Training will be available on November 9th, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm at the Manatee County Extension office in Palmetto (register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/commercial-wps-train-the-trainer-workshop-tickets-28512143589 )   and on December 15th, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm (register at: https://wpsttt2016balm.eventbrite.com ).

For more information about the changes in the WPS and the WPS Train the Trainer classes, please contact Martha Glenn at mglenn7@ufl.edu or 941-722-4524.