Pesticide Safety Training
There are state and federal regulations that mandate pesticide safety training for employees who handle pesticides or work in areas where pesticides have been applied. In many respects, California laws are more stringent than the federal laws, so California laws prevail.
The Good Old Days
This is no longer the good old days when advertisements such as this appeared in popular magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest. This ad appeared in the 1950s and claims that DDT safely protects people, children, pets, crops, and livestock from harmful pests. How things have changed!
Training Requirements for Workers
This slide represents a slice of time in an agricultural field. The green part of the bar represents periods when any worker can enter the field without needing any special training.
The red portion it the period of time when any pesticide is being applied. Only trained pesticide handlers may be present in the field at that time and they must be wearing the required personal protective equipment (we’ll discuss who pesticide handlers are in a few minutes).
The magenta section of the timeline is the restricted-entry interval. Most pesticides have a mandated restricted-entry interval ranging from a few hours to several days or weeks. Only properly trained “early-entry workers” can enter the treated field during the restricted-entry interval—often they must be wearing personal protective equipment and the amount of time spent in the area may be limited.
The yellow part of the timeline is the 30-day period after the end of the restricted-entry interval. Anyone working in the treated field during this time must have received the Federal Worker Protection Standard training within the last 5 years. Employers must document that these workers have received this training or they must provide the training to the employees.
After the end of the 30-day period, anyone may enter the field without having received pesticide safety training as long as no other pesticides were applied.
This training (for the handlers, early-entry workers, and fieldworkers) is required for any type and class of pesticide.
The person who provides the training to employees who work in production agriculture (including agricultural research), commercial greenhouses and nurseries, and forests, must be qualified in some way. This is a California requirement. Trainers must be certified applicators (QAC or QAL in any categories), certified private applicators, PCAs, UC Farm Advisors, Ag Commissioner biologists, or have attended an approved train-the-trainer program such as the one offered by the UC IPM Pesticide Safety Education Program.
[a fieldworker training record is provided as a handout] This training applies to all employees working in production agriculture (including agricultural research), commercial greenhouses and nurseries, and forests. This training is mandated by the Federal Worker Protection Standard.
The purpose of the training is to provide workers with information about how they can protect themselves from pesticide residues in fields where they work. It also is designed to provide them information about their rights to obtain medical care and information about the pesticides used at their workplaces.
The Worker Protection Standard prevents employers from retaliating against employees who are following the requirements of the standard.
Fieldworker Training Frequency
Fieldworkers must be trained at least every 5 years. US EPA is considering shortening this interval to 2 or 3 years based on recommendations from the Worker Protection Standard Assessment activities that have been ongoing over the past three years.
Employers must have verifiable proof that a worker received this training or they must provide the training themselves. Verifiable proof could be a blue card issued by a qualified trainer.
Only qualified trainers can provide this training.
Notice about applicatons
All employees working within ¼ mile of the application site must receive notification about a planned pesticide application. Only employees of the person or organization responsible for the property where the pesticide is to be applied must be notified.
The pesticide label may specify the method of notification. This could be by posting, oral notification, or both.
If the label (or State requirements for posting) does not specify which method to use, the employer my choose which method, but must inform employees of the method being used.
All greenhouse applications must be posted.
notification diagram 1
All employees working within ¼ mile of the red application site must be notified by the application. Employees working for Wilson, Smith, or Jones do not need to be notified. However, it would be good practice to let workers on these properties know about the application and remember, these employees must be protected from pesticide exposure due to drift.
notification diagram 2
Here, any employees working on the other side of the county road must be notified along with employees working adjacent to the application site. Employees working for Smith or Jones do not need to be notified.
Before each application, tell workers the location and description of the treatment area, the length of the restricted-entry interval, and warn them not to enter the area until the restricted-entry interval expires.
Provide the same information to employees who start working after the application has been made if the restricted-entry interval is still in effect.
posted warning signs
Signs should be put up just before the application is made, but not more than 24 hours before. Once the signs are put up only trained handlers may enter the area.
Keep signs up during the entire restricted-entry interval.
Remove the signs within 3 days after the end of the restricted-entry interval. No one other than handlers or early-entry workers (wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment) may enter the area until the signs are removed.
Signs cannot be put up or kept up to keep people out of the area after the restricted-entry interval expires.
Signs must be seen at all entrances to treated areas, including entrances from labor camps. They must be posted at least every 600 feet around the perimeter of the treated area.
restrictions during applications
During an application, only trained and properly equipped handlers can enter the area.
Nursery workers must be kept at least 100 feet away from treated area.
Special requirements exist for greenhouse applications.
Do not allow workers to enter an area during a restricted-entry interval.
information at a central location
Employers must post, at a central location, the Pesticide Safety Information Series A-8 and A-9 (downloadable from the DPR website).
The posting must include the name, address, and telephone number of the nearest medical facility.
The posting also must include facts about the application, including: the pesticide name, EPA number, and active ingredients; the location and description of the treated area; and the application time and date as well as the length of the restricted-entry interval.
avoid contact with pesticides
When training fieldworkers, it is important to tell them where and in what form pesticide residues may be encountered during work activities. This could be on produce, leaves, soil, and equipment. Warn them not to eat produce from treated areas.
hazards from chemigation and drift
Warn workers never to use irrigation water for drinking or washing
They must leave an area immediately if pesticides are being applied or pesticide drift from a nearby application is moving towards them.
routes of exposure
Workers must be informed that pesticides can enter the body through the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth.
People working in areas where pesticides have been applied should wash thoroughly at the end of the workday and put on clean clothing.
pesticide residues on clothing
Workers should change work clothing daily and keep this clothing separate from family laundry, even during washing.
warning about taking pesticides home
People who work with pesticides or in areas where pesticides are used should not take home any pesticides or pesticide containers. Also, they should not put pesticides into food or beverage containers.
hazards resulting from toxicity and exposure
Explain to workers that exposure to some types of pesticides may result in immediate effects or the illness or injury may appear at some later time. Some pesticides can cause long-term illnesses.
Certain people develop allergic reactions or sensitization to some types of pesticides.
common poisoning symptoms
This slide lists many of the common pesticide poisoning symptoms. Not all pesticides will produce these symptoms and a person will probably not experience all of these symptoms. Also, most of these symptoms are similar to other conditions, such as colds, flu, heat stress, etc.
emergency first aid
The first aid for pesticide exposure is to decontaminate the part of the body where the exposure occurred. This would include removing contaminated clothing and washing the affected skin with soap and water. If the eyes are involved, they must be thoroughly flushed with water.
Employers must provide transportation to a medical facility if a person experiences illness or injury related to pesticide exposure.
Provide medical personnel with information about the pesticide, the first aid and medical information from the label, and information about how the pesticide was used and how the person became exposed.
Employers cannot retaliate against workers who attempt to comply with any provision of the Worker Protection Standard
pesticide handler training
Training must be performed at least every 12 months and it must be specific to the pesticide being handled.
People who perform any of the work listed on this slide are considered pesticide handlers. Unless they are certified applicators or PCAs, they must receive yearly training.
Training muse be provided prior to any handling activity.
Handler Training Requirements
The training for handlers must be conducted yearly, although not necessarily on a calendar year basis. Once training is given it is good for 12 months. However, the training must be given before the employee engages in any pesticide handling activities.
Training must be specific to the pesticides being handled. If it is expected that the employee will be handling several pesticides during the coming year, the training for all of them can be given at the same time. However, if a new pesticide in introduced, the training must be updated to include that material before the employee handles it.
pesticide safety training record—handlers
[there is a handout of this form] This form lists the required topics that must be covered during handler pesticide safety training. The form must be signed by the trainer, employer (or employer’s representative), and the employee.
Update the form whenever any new pesticide is being handled during the year.
Keep this record for two years.