Worker Protection Standards Regulation Changes Take Effect in January 2017

Dr. Patty Skinkis, Viticulture Extension Specialist & Associate Professor

Effective January 2, 2017, all farms, including vineyards, will require that their agricultural workers receive annual training, have easy access to information about all pesticides used on the farm, and receive necessary safety information while working around pesticides. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was revised in 2015 to enhance the protections of farm workers and pesticide applicators from the risks associated with pesticides. It now requires more frequent training of agricultural workers and makes pesticide use recordkeeping a federal directive. See the employer checklist for the requirements.The revised regulations require that all farms, where agricultural plants are produced, must provide annual training of employees who work in and around pesticide application areas. This includes full, part-time or temporary employees, and it applies to areas even after pesticides are applied. Specifically, these rules apply to areas where products with “Agricultural Use Requirement” on the label are applied, which includes nearly all pesticides whether organic or not, see an example here. To determine the need and type of training to provide, see this decision guide.

It is important that you are aware of these changes, especially since it enables you as an employer to take steps in protecting workers from physical harm associated with pesticide use. If you want to do your own training of workers in-house, this will require that you have a qualified trainer which is defined as one of the following:  1) the trainer is an employee with a current ODA pesticide applicator licensed, 2) the employee completed an 8-hour Train the Trainer Course, or 3) the trainer is a third party certified trainer. Because any paid worker coming onto the farm needs to have this training BEFORE they begin work, being trained in-house may be a more convenient option for some. A number of Train the Trainer Courses are being offered by Oregon State University and may be a quicker route to being certified to train if none of your employees are ODA licensed pesticide applicators. Also, training must be done with approved WPS training materials, which are available in English and Spanish online.

All resources for the WPS  regulations and training are available online through the Pesticide Educational Resource Collaborative, including the full “How to Comply” guide. Also refer to the National Pesticide Information Center for more information about WPS and to access further resources on pesticides, their use, and training.  Please share these important updates with your colleagues and neighbors in the winegrape community.
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