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Pesticide Safety & EPA Regulation Changes

In the horticultural industry, they’re as common as plants and dirt—pesticides and herbicides. As a business owner, odds are you and your workers come into contact with them on a regular basis. Here at Hortica, we’re all about protecting your investment. We’ve gathered some safety suggestions when it comes to handling chemicals:

  • Protect Exposed Skin: Here, covering is key. Proper clothing will insulate and protect you from exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Eye protection and gloves are also a must. Remember, even if you’re being careful, a shift in wind could send that spray right back at you.
  • Proper Clean-up: Wash your hands and face before eating, drinking, smoking or using the restroom. When you get home, bathe or shower with plenty of soap and water. The same is true for your work clothes and shoes. But don’t throw them in with the family laundry. Work things need to be washed separately to avoid spreading any pesticides/herbicides to other clothes. And don’t forget about your protection gear. It needs to be properly cleaned and maintained.
  • Handling Any Exposure: If you’ve been exposed, take action right away. If chemicals get in your eyes, rinse with water for 15 minutes and get medical help. If it’s on your skin, wash the affected area thoroughly and take off any clothing that was contaminated. And always know where a first aid kit is and where you can get emergency care.

Some of these suggestions are detailed in the new revisions to the federal 1992 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the changes mean more than two million farmworkers and pesticide handlers will now have health protections similar to workers in other industries.

Among the major changes going into effect January 2nd, 2017, safety training on pesticides is required yearly, instead of every five years. For the first time, children under 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides. More safety issues are also addressed—including take-home exposure from work clothes. Here’s a quick look at some other revisions:

  • Training for workers increases from 11 to 23 subjects. Handlers’ training now covers 36 items, up from 13. All employees have 2 years from the start of the new rule to complete the extra training.
  • An expansion of no-entry signs posted around sprayed fields with the most dangerous chemicals, while 100 feet application-exclusion zones around equipment limits overspray exposure.
  • Employers must supply a respirator to workers who need one and provide fit testing, training and a medical evaluation.
  • Set amounts of water must be at job sites for routine washing, emergency eye flushing and other decontamination.
  • Exemption rules for farm owners and their immediate family continue. However, the definition of “immediate family” is expanded.

These are just some of the changes made by the EPA to its worker protection rules. It’s important that you review all of them to make sure your business is in compliance. Be sure to get legal advice if you have concerns. For more information and a complete list of the changes, use the link below to reach the EPA’s website:

Sure, there will always be a need for pesticides and herbicides in your business. But following these new rules will go a long way toward keeping your workers safe. To make sure you’re properly protected in case something would happen, talk with a Hortica specialist to look at your current insurance coverage or design a safety program customized for you.

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