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EPA proposes new ag worker standards

—Edited by Kathleen M. Dutro
Public Relations Team

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s agricultural worker protection standard, or WPS, is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.

A rule recently proposed by EPA extensively revises the existing WPS in several areas, including training, notification, hazard communication, minimum age and personal protective equipment. The current comment deadline is June 17, 2014. AFBF requested a 90-day extension of the comment deadline.

Proposed changes include:

  • Altering the family farm exemption.
  • Increasing legal obligation related to training of workers, content of training materials, timing of training, and recordkeeping of training.
  • Imposing stricter requirements related to personal protective equipment and availability of decontamination supplies.
  • Expanding mandatory posting of no-entry signs when the restricted entry interval is greater than 48 hours.
  • Imposing 25-100 foot buffer zones surrounding pesticide treated fields that could reduce available acreage for crop production (current buffer zones only apply to nurseries and greenhouses).
  • Requiring that pesticide handlers and early-entry workers must be 16 years of age (currently there is no minimum age) with an exemption for family farms.

Amy Cornell, IFB policy advisor and counsel, is working with AFBF staff to prepare comments to the proposed changes. Please contact her with any questions or concerns at 317-692-8005, acornell@infarmbureau.org.

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