WPS To Reduce Risk of Pesticide Poisoning and Injury 

University of Tennessee Extension expert says agricultural operations must follow revised Worker Production Standard to keep workers, handlers and familes safe. Image courtesy UTIA. 

The purpose of the Worker Production Standard (WPS) is to minimize the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and/or handlers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the WPS in 2015 to include additional protection for agricultural workers, handlers, and their families.

How does this affect your operation? According to Darrell Hensley, University of Tennessee Extension specialist, “In order to use and handle pesticides, your workers and/or handlers must be minimum of 18 years of age.” The definition of immediate family and criteria for agriculture establishments has been expanded so that they are eligible for exemption.

Hensley says to make sure you keep your pesticide application records for two years after application. In order to use a pesticide with the WPS labeling you must follow the directions on the label, as well as the WPS regulations. Workers and/or handlers have to attend annual training for WPS.

“If your workers and/or handlers have valid commercial or private pesticide applicator certification, then annual WPS training would not be required,” said Hensley. “As an employer you have several options available when it comes to training for workers and/or handlers. You can obtain training though your local county Extension office or you can provide WPS training for your employees.”

According to Hensley, “All training materials must be approved by the EPA and several older versions may no longer be valid.” You can obtain training materials through Tennessee’s Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) website or through the Pesticide Education Resources Collaborative (PERC) website.

The training materials from PERC have been developed through an EPA cooperative agreement. Hensley touched on the fact that the EPA and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture will conduct on-farm inspections, so you need to make certain workers and/or handlers are adequately trained with approve materials.

For more information about how to comply with WPS visit the EPA website.

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Darrell Hensley, UT Extension specialist, 865-974-1286, dhensley@utk.edu