Pesticides and Other Chemicals

Pesticide exposure can create both short- and long-term risks of illness for farm/agricultural workers, especially pesticide-handlers when working with defective or inadequate protective equipment. Pesticides can also be harmful to applicators, harvesters, and even rural residents via air, food, and groundwater.

Pesticide-use is regulated by the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rules set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which include requirements for personal protective equipment, notification of pesticide-application, pesticide safety training, emergency medical assistance, decontamination supplies, and periods of restricted-entry after application. These rules cover two classes of workers:

  • Pesticide-handlers - employees who mix, load, and/or apply pesticides in agricultural settings, as well as those who clean or repair the application equipment or otherwise assist in the application process;
  • Agricultural workers - employees who work with the cultivation and harvest of plants in a variety of agricultural settings and are compensated for their work. This class does not include employees not directly involved in cultivation or harvesting, such as drivers, mechanics, or office employees.

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