The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a federal regulation issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to better protect workers and handlers from pesticide exposure. In 2015, revisions were ordered to strengthen elements of the existing standards and reduce the numbers of potentially preventable pesticide illnesses, as explained by the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC) in the How to Comply Manual.
The WPS rule protects workers who are paid to perform activities related to the production of agricultural plants, as well as pesticide handlers who are paid to mix, load, or apply pesticides for use on establishments producing those plants.
Last month during the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) 2017 National Conference, AFOP Health & Safety hosted the WPS Certification training for 64 pesticide safety educators from around the country using the EPA-approved train-the-trainer course #EPA WPS TTT W/H 00026. With the updated regulation, our job is to ensure that educators understand the information they will deliver, and know how to use the most effective methods and tools in their trainings.
Participants learn the new WPS from the best, as they hear from government and university pesticide specialists.
Trainers were very fortunate to receive the training directly from EPA Pesticide Specialist and Senior Program Advisor, Richard Pont. We were also lucky to have PERC’s Deputy Director and Associate Professor of Practice at Oregon State University, Kaci Buhl. Both were interactive and engaging with the attendees over the course of the long training day. Regulations can be tough to understand and at times intimidating to approach, but Mr. Pont and Ms. Buhl simplified the information and made it easy to digest. During the class attendees were able to ask many questions directly to Mr. Pont who, having been part of the process of writing and reviewing the new rule, knows it like the back of his hand.
Ms. Kaci Buhl instructs on the difference between pesticide handlers and pesticide workers.
As we approach 2018, AFOP’s National Farmworker Training Program will continue providing pesticide safety training to farmworkers across the nation, thanks to our wonderful network of trainers and the EPA’s dedicated support. Our AFOP Health & Safety staff is working hard to ensure that each pesticide safety educator fully understands the updated rule, and delivers it in most effective way possible.
A big thank you to our team of pesticide experts from the EPA and Oregon State University: Kevin Keaney, Kaci Buhl, and Richard Pont.