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October 11, 2016

New Resources Available for EPA Worker Protection Standard

On Nov. 2, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final revisions to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). There are a number of new obligations resulting from the rule.

Last November, Western Growers released a fact sheet with information comparing the new standard to the old standard. EPA also made available a review and comparison of changes. Many employers already implement record keeping and training similar to what is required by the new standard.

Recently, EPA released a “How to Comply” manual available here. Western Growers encourages members to carefully review the manual. Agricultural employers and handler employers must comply with most of the requirements of the final rule by January 2, 2017, while others go into effect on January 2, 2018.

Changes required by January 2, 2017 include:

  • Annual training for workers and handlers
  • Recordkeeping of training information
  • Recordkeeping of pesticide application information and hazard information
  • Minimum age requirements
  • Instructors must attend an EPA approved “Train the Trainer” course

Changes required by January 2, 2018 include:

  • Expanded training content for workers and handlers (January 2, 2018 or within 6 months of EPA making training materials available but not before January 2, 2018)
  • Expanded content for safety information display
  • Requirements for suspension of application if unauthorized persons enter an “exclusion zone”

The rule also includes a controversial “designated representative” provision, which requires employers to make pesticide application and hazard information available to a person designated in writing by a worker or handler. Western Growers has concerns about the limits and intentions of this provision, though it is an improvement over the proposed rule that allowed written or oral authorization of a representative.

In addition to the EPA “How to Comply” manual, states have services and training to assist with compliance:

  • UC IPM and AgSafe are offering instructor training workshops co-sponsored by CDPR.  More information is available here.
  • Arizona Department of agriculture also has resources to help employers and handlers comply with the new standard available here.
  • Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University will be providing webinars and presentations. More information is available on their website.

For more information, contact Ben Sacher at (202) 296-0191 ext 7301.