Worker Protection Standards (WPS)

The WPS is a federal regulation originally enacted in 1992 designed to protect agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people mixing, loading, or applying pesticides or doing other tasks involving direct contact with pesticides. You probably need to comply with the WPS if you are a:

Manager or owner of a farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse, or

Labor contractor for a farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse, or

Custom (for hire) pesticide applicator or independent crop consultant hired by a farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse operator.

Most WPS provisions are protections that you, as an employer, must provide for your own employees and, in some instances, to yourself. The WPS covers two types of employers, which it defines according to the type of work their employees do.

 Revision of the WPS 

On November 2, 2015 the EPA revised the WPS, making significant changes to the rule’s requirements.  Most of the revised provisions became effective January 2, 2018.  The website below contains the new WPS training materials and information. 

Changes to Worker Protection Standard Powerpoint

Which Pesticide Uses Are Covered?
Most pesticide uses involved in the production of agricultural plants on a farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse are covered by the WPS. This includes pesticides used on plants, and pesticides used on the soil or planting medium the plants are (or will be) grown in. Both general-use and restricted-use pesticides are covered by the WPS. You will know that the product is covered by the WPS if you see the following statement in the Directions for Use section of the pesticide labeling:

Use this product only in accordance with its labeling and with the Worker Protection Standard, 40 CFR 170. This standard contains requirements for the protection of agricultural workers on farms, forests, nurseries, greenhouses, and handlers of agricultural pesticides. It contains requirements for training, decontamination, notification, and emergency assistance. It also contains specific instructions and exceptions pertaining to the statements on this label about personal protective equipment, notification of workers, and restricted-entry intervals.”

If you are using a product with labeling that refers to the Worker Protection Standard, you must comply with the WPS. Otherwise, you will be in violation of federal law, since it is illegal to use a pesticide product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.

Which Pesticide Uses Are Not Covered?
Some pesticide uses are not covered by the WPS, even when the “Agricultural Use Requirements” section is on the labeling. For example, if the pesticide labeling bears an “Agricultural Use Requirements” section, but the product also can be applied to rights-of-way, the rights-of-way use is not covered by the WPS. The WPS does not cover pesticides applied:

• on pastures or rangelands, unless hay is harvested,

• for control of vertebrate pests such as rodents,

• as attractants or repellents in traps,

• on the portions of agricultural plants that have been harvested, such as in packing houses or on cut timber,

• for mosquito abatement, Mediterranean fruit fly eradication, or similar government-sponsored wide-area public pest control programs,

• on livestock or other animals, or in or around animal premises,

• on plants grown for other than commercial or research purposes, which may include plants in habitations, home fruit and vegetable gardens, and home greenhouses,

• in a manner not directly related to the production of agricultural plants, including, for example, control of vegetation along rights of way and in other noncrop areas and structural pest control, such as termite control and wood preservation.

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