On February 20, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed changes to the agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to increase protections from pesticide exposure for the nation's 2 million agricultural workers and their families. They are seeking input on the changes that are being proposed. Here is an EPA factsheet on the changes and compares with what is already in place. http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/safety/workers/proposed/comparisons-current-proposed-wps.pdf Here is a list of the included changes:
Increased frequency of mandatory trainings (from once every five years to annually) to inform farm workers about the protections they are afforded under the law, including restrictions on entering pesticide-treated fields and surrounding areas, decontamination supplies, access to information and use of personal protective equipment. Expanded trainings will include instructions to reduce take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing and other safety topics.
Expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides; the signs prohibit entry into pesticide-treated fields until residues decline to a safe level.
First time-ever minimum age requirement: Children under 16 will be prohibited from handling pesticides, with an exemption for family farms.
No-entry buffer areas surrounding pesticide-treated fields will protect workers and others from exposure from pesticide overspray and fumes.
Measures to improve the states’ ability to enforce compliance including requiring employers to keep records of application-specific pesticide information as well as farmworker training and early-entry notification for two years.
Personal Protection Equipment (respirator use) must be consistent with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards for ensuring respirators are providing protection, including fit test, medical evaluation, and training.
Make available to farm workers or their advocates (including medical personnel) information specific to the pesticide application, including the pesticide label and Safety Data Sheets.
Additional changes make the rule more practical and easier to comply with for farmers.
Continues the exemptions for family farms.
Here is the site for more information from the EPA as well as a link to add your comments to the proposed changes. http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/safety/workers/proposed/index.html
If you would like to go to a meeting about these rule changes FDACS and EPA is holding one. Here is the information:
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) will be hosting a meeting with growers and grower organizations to provide an overview of the recently proposed changes to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The purpose of the meeting is to better inform the grower community on the WPS proposals and the comment submission process. Mr. Richard Pont with the U.S. EPA, Office of Pesticide Programs will be making a presentation and answering questions regarding the changes. The meeting will be held on April 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM-12:00 PM at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), located at 700 Experiment Station Rd., Lake Alfred, FL. Please note that the public is strongly encouraged to submit their comments to the docket via Regulations.gov.