EPA Increases Agricultural Worker Protections against Pesticide Exposure

Published September 30, 2015

Earlier this week, EPA finalized revisions to its agricultural worker protection standard that will bring health protections for agricultural workers in line with those already in place for workers in other industries. The new revisions strengthen existing regulations on training, pesticide safety and hazard communication information, and use of personal protective equipment. According to the agency, the regulation is intended to reduce the risks of injury and illness resulting from workers’ exposure to pesticides on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses.

One of the major revisions to EPA’s Worker Protection Standard is annual mandatory training to inform agricultural workers on the required protections afforded to them. Currently, this training is required only once every five years. The revised standard expands training to include instructions on reducing take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing. The revisions also ensure that changes in personal protective equipment will be consistent with the Department of Labor’s standards for ensuring that respirators are effective, including fit-testing, medical evaluation, and training.

The revisions are expected to be published in the Federal Register within 60 days, and the majority of the new requirements will be effective approximately 14 months after publication. For more information, see EPA’s website.