The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is intended to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses that are subject to occupational agricultural pesticide exposure. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the new changes to provide more protections for agricultural workers. Most of the new requirements for the WPS will go into effect on January 2, 2017 with full implementation by January 1, 2018, allowing time for material updates and farmer and state adjustments.
Since the WPS was originally enacted in 1992, the expectation is that the new revisions will afford agricultural workers better protections. Protections that, according to the EPA, will reduce the widespread under-reported 1,800-3,000 occupational pesticide exposure incidents. However, the EPA is placing a greater emphasis on repetitive low level and take-home exposures. The major revisions cover a number of different areas; for farmworkers they include:
• Mandatory annual training
• Expanded training on take-home exposures and prevention
• Prohibited pesticide handling for children under 18
• Expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for pesticide treated areas
• New no-entry application-exclusion zones up to 100 feet
• Mandatory record-keeping to improve states’ ability to enforce rules
• Safety Data Sheets (SDS) will be available to both workers and their doctors
• Protections against retaliation will match those of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) standards
• Workers using respirators will match those of DOL’s standards
• Sufficient water will be available at mixing/loading sites for decontamination and emergency eye washing
As a national farmworker health and safety training program, this has huge implications for AFOP Health & Safety Programs network of 200 plus trainers, who provide WPS training to workers. A welcomed change, as AFOP Health & Safety Programs continues to breakdown language barriers regardless of documentation status as we train the tens of thousands of farm workers and their children with the sole interest of improving the health and well-being of America’s farm workers. There is no denying that farm work is dangerous physical work and more can be done to protect those who grow and harvest food that sustains this nation. This is why AFOP Health & Safety strives to empower the farmworker community through health and safety education, resources and tools.
To learn more about the new WPS rules, visit: