EPA to Reconsider Certain Requirements of Worker Protection Standard

Published December 20, 2017

EPA recently initiated a process to revise certain requirements of its agricultural worker protection standard, which was most recently revised in 2015. The agency intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit public input on proposed revisions to requirements related to minimum ages, designated representatives, and application exclusion zones by the end of fiscal year 2018. These three requirements were mentioned when EPA solicited public comments on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification in accordance with presidential Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which is intended to “alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens” on Americans. The agency determined that further consideration of these requirements is warranted through the rulemaking process.

The 2015 revisions established a minimum age of 18 years for pesticide handlers and for workers who must enter pesticide-treated areas early in a few work situations such as emergencies. Owners of agricultural establishments and their immediate family members are exempt from the minimum-age requirement. The revised standard also required agricultural employers to provide pesticide application information and safety data sheets to a designated representative of a worker or handler under certain circumstances. The requirements related to application exclusion zones are intended to reduce the number of incidents where workers or others are exposed to pesticides during agricultural pesticide applications. The 2015 revision of the standard requires employers to keep workers and others out of certain areas around pesticide application equipment during ongoing applications. Employers are also required to suspend a pesticide application if workers or others are in the application exclusion zone.

Most of the requirements of the 2015 revision of EPA’s worker protection standard went into effect on Jan. 2, 2017. Further requirements related to pesticide safety training and pesticide safety information go into effect soon on Jan. 2, 2018. On Jan. 2, 2018, the requirement that handlers suspend applications if workers or other people are in an application exclusion zone also goes into effect. EPA states that these compliance dates will remain in effect and that the agency does not intend to extend them.

More information is available on EPA’s webpage on the agricultural worker protection standard. A pre-publication copy of an upcoming Federal Register notice (PDF) explains more about EPA’s reconsideration of the requirements on minimum ages, designated representatives, and application exclusion zones.