Federal agencies Agriculture, forestry and fishing Workplace exposures

EPA takes steps to further delay pesticide standard, certification rule

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Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 14 announced its intentions to publish, by the end of fiscal year 2018, separate notices of proposed rulemaking for public comment on potential revisions to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard and the Certification and Training Rule.

EPA is considering revisions to WPS requirements for minimum ages, designated representatives and application exclusion zones. The standard requires annual safety training for workers who handle pesticides, while prohibiting pesticide handling by workers younger than 18. It also requires employers to post application information and Safety Data Sheets for each pesticide used at an establishment.

Pesticide exposure has been linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease and asthma, EPA notes.

EPA first proposed the new safety measures for farmworkers in February 2014. The compliance dates published in November 2015 in the revised WPS remain in effect. Many requirements took effect Jan. 2, 2017, but three others are scheduled to do so on Jan. 2. They are:

  • Ensuring pesticide training covers the expanded content
  • Keeping pesticide safety posters in accord with revised standards
  • Suspending handlers’ applications if workers or others are in the application exclusion zone

The agency also may revise minimum-age requirements for the Certification and Training Rule, which pertains to restricted use pesticides, or those unavailable to the general public. The rule would set the minimum age for certified applicators at 18. No national minimum age previously has been established.

EPA in June extended the effective date of the rule to May 22, 2018, after a series of earlier delays.

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