EPA proposes new worker protection rules

02/20/2014 02:51:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

pesticide mixingCourtesy Natural Resources Conservation ServiceWearing gloves, mask and other protection are part of handling farm chemicals safely.The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes to the Worker Protection Standard to increase worker protection from pesticide exposure and is seeking industry input.

The proposed changes will be printed in the Federal Register, http://www.regulations.gov, within 10 days of the EPA's Feb. 20 announcement, according to a news release.

You can also view a 345-page prepublication version on the EPA's website.

Under the proposal, workers and others near treated fields will now be protected from pesticide overspray or fumes.

In addition, the EPA proposes that children under 16 be barred from handling all pesticides except on family farms.

Among the other proposed changes are:

• Increased frequency of mandatory training to inform farmworkers about protections they're afforded under the law. Currently, they only have to undergo training once every five years.

• Expand mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides.

• No-entry buffer areas surrounding pesticide-treated fields will protect workers and others from exposure to pesticide overspray and fumes.

• Personal protection equipment—PPE—requirements must be consistent with those of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

The proposal represents more than a decade of input from the agricultural industry as well as from federal and state agencies and regulators.

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