Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Compliance Assistance
What is the Worker Protection Standard?
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It covers pesticides that are used in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. The WPS requires you to take steps to reduce the risk of pesticide-related illnesses and injury if you (1) use such pesticides, or (2) employ workers or pesticide handlers who are exposed to such pesticides.
If you are an agricultural pesticide user and/or an employer of agricultural workers or pesticide handlers, the WPS requires you to provide to your employees and, in some cases, to yourself and to others:
- Information about exposure to pesticides
- Protection against exposures to pesticides
- Ways to mitigate exposures to pesticides
Worker Protection Standard Material
To ensure that employees will be informed about exposure to pesticides, the WPS requires:
- Pesticide safety training for workers and handlers
- Pesticide safety poster to be displayed for workers and handlers
- Access to labeling information for pesticide handlers and early-entry workers
- Access to specific information, with a centrally located Application List of pesticide treatments on the establishment
To ensure that employees will be protected from exposures to pesticides, the WPS requires employers to:
- Prohibit handlers from applying a pesticide in a way that will expose workers or other persons.
- Exclude workers from areas being treated with pesticides.
- Exclude workers from areas that remain under a restricted-entry interval (REI), with narrow exceptions.
- Protect early-entry workers who are doing permitted tasks in treated areas during an REI; requirements include special instructions and duties related to correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Notify workers about treated areas so they can avoid inadvertent exposures.
- Protect handlers during handling tasks. Requirements include monitoring while handling highly toxic pesticides and duties related to correct use of PPE.
To mitigate pesticide exposures that employees receive, the WPS requires:
- Decontamination site providing handlers and workers an ample supply of water, soap, and towels for routine washing and emergency decontamination.
- Emergency assistance making transportation available to a medical care facility if an agricultural worker or handler may have been poisoned or injured by a pesticide and providing information about the pesticide(s) to which the person may have been exposed.
- Objectives of Compliance Assistance
- Compliance assistance to greenhouse, nursery and farming facilities identified by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF) as not meeting WPS regulations.
- Increased protection of workers and handlers in greenhouse, nursery and farming operations.
- Greenhouse and Nursery Issues
- Most greenhouse and nursery operations in Oklahoma are small businesses with few employees. Outreach efforts by ODAFF and OSU’s Pesticide Safety Education Program strive to assist this sector into complying with WPS.
- ODAFF and OSU have personnel who are knowledgeable of greenhouse and nursery production systems and WPS requirements. By integrating personnel and programs, a compliance schedule can be provided to individual facilities without major disruption or their production.
ODAFF and OSU Pesticide Safety Education Program believe a coordinated approach which utilizes ODAFF’s enforcement authority and OSU’s PSEP programs will increase compliance with WPS by greenhouse, nursery and farming facilities. This approach involves ODAFF conducting facility inspections. Facilities not in compliance have two choices. One is to attempt to come into compliance on their own and the second it to cooperate in the assistance program sponsored by OSU’s PSEP program and ODAFF.
OSU’s Greenhouse/Nursery PSEP and IPM Committee and ODAFF’s PICS personnel will work closely together to identify specific compliance needs. ODAFF and OSU personnel will initiate educational programs for the individual facilities participating in the program, and work one-on-one with the facility to assist them in complying with WPS. For more information visit WPS: EPA Worker Protection Standard