Agricultural Worker Protection

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The Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

The Worker Protection Standard is the federal law which must be complied with whenever pesticide products are used on agricultural establishments for the commercial or research production of agricultural plants. Persons who must comply with this regulation include owners or operators of agricultural establishments and owners or operators of commercial businesses that are hired to apply pesticides on agricultural establishments.

The Worker Protection Standard was created to provide agricultural workers and pesticide handlers in agriculture with protections against possible exposure and harm from pesticides in the workplace. Pesticide applicators fall into the category of pesticide handlers in this regulation.

Under the provisions of the Worker Protection Standard, agricultural employers are required to do the following:

  • Display at a central location specific information about pesticide safety, emergency procedures and recent pesticide applications;
  • Supply pesticide safety training for their agricultural workers and pesticide handlers;
  • Provide assistance in getting medical treatment in case of work-related pesticide emergencies;

In addition, agricultural employers:

  • must comply with restricted-entry intervals found on the label. These are the times immediately after pesticide applications when workers may not enter treated areas;
  • must notify workers through oral and/or posted warnings about areas where pesticide applications are taking place and areas where restricted-entry intervals are in effect on their property;
  • must provide decontamination sites for workers and handlers to wash pesticides residues off their hands and bodies.

Under the Worker Protection Standard, it is illegal for anyone other than a trained, properly equipped pesticide handler to be present at a site during a pesticide application. In addition, pesticide handlers must be routinely monitored while they are making applications in certain hazardous situations or using pesticides bearing a skull and crossbones on the label.

Employers must instruct all pesticide handlers in correct use of personal protective equipment and correct use of pesticide application equipment. And finally, they must provide the personal protective equipment listed on the pesticide label to all pesticide handlers and specially trained workers, called early-entry workers. In a few very limited situations, these early-entry workers may enter pesticide-treated areas before the restricted-entry interval has expired, but never during a pesticide application.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation is the regulatory agency in South Carolina responsible for enforcement of the Worker Protection Standard. For more information go to Department of Pesticide Regulation > >

Selected Worker Protection web sites and publications:

How to Comply with the Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides: What Employers Need to Know - EPA 735-B-05-002, new as of September 2005.

Worker Protection Standard 2005 Update Quick Reference Guide - EPA. (PDF)

WPS and Recent Amendments - links to complete Worker Protection Standard and recent amendments and exceptions.

EPA/OPP Pesticide Programs on Worker Safety - EPA Office of Pesticide Programs

EPA Worker Protection Standard

EPA Worker Protection Standard Publications - Some are PDF documents, some are HTML and some are order only fro the The National Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center

EPA Ag Center Compliance Fact Sheets - Fact sheets on compliance with EPA agricultural programs, especially the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Easy-to-understand explanations of many compliance-related subjects. (Fact Sheets are HTML & PDF)

WPS Revisions - (PDF) A Summary of Revisions to the Workers Protection Standard, Pesticide Education Office, IFAS, Univ. of Florida.

EPA Worker Protection Standard Danger Poster - (PDF)