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The Environmental Protection Agency has revised the 1992 Worker Protection Standard. The organization announced “stronger protections for the nation’s two million agricultural workers and their families working on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. These revisions to the 1992 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard will afford farmworkers similar health protections that are already afforded to workers in other industries,” on its website.
The revisions are designed to inform and protect farmers regarding pesticide use. Given the multitude of adverse health issues pesticides can cause, it may be surprising to learn that 900 million pounds of pesticides are used each year on U.S. farms, AlterNet reports. It has also been estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 people who work on farms “are diagnosed with pesticide poisoning and between 1,800 and 3,000 occupational pesticide exposure ‘incidents’ are also reported every year.”
According to the EPA, the changes address these concerns. Take a look at what they’ve revised:
- Annual mandatory training to inform farmworkers on the required protections afforded to them. Currently, training is only once every 5 years.
- Expanded training includes instructions to reduce take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing and other safety topics.
- First-time ever minimum age requirement: Children under 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides.
- Expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides. The signs prohibit entry into pesticide-treated fields until residues decline to a safe level.
- New no-entry application-exclusion zones up to 100 feet surrounding pesticide application equipment will protect workers and others from exposure to pesticide overspray.
- Requirement to provide more than one way for farmworkers and their representatives to gain access to pesticide application information and safety data sheets—centrally-posted or by requesting records.
- Mandatory record-keeping to improve states’ ability to follow up on pesticide violations and enforce compliance. Records of application-specific pesticide information, as well as farmworker training, must be kept for two years.
- Anti-retaliation provisions are comparable to Department of Labor’s.
- Changes in personal protective equipment will be consistent with DOL’s standards for ensuring respirators are effective, including fit test, medical evaluation and training.
- Specific amounts of water to be used for routine washing, emergency eye flushing and other decontamination, including eye wash systems for handlers at pesticide mixing/loading sites.
- Continue the exemption for farm owners and their immediate families with an expanded definition of immediate family.
What do you think of the revisions? Let us know in the comments below.