Revised Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations go into effect January 2nd. If you own or manage a farm where pesticides are used to produce an agricultural crop and have employees you likely must comply with WPS.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published significant revisions of the Worker Protection Standard regulations on November 2, 2015. Agricultural employers will have until January 2, 2017 to come into compliance with most of the revised WPS regulations and must be in full compliance by January 2018.

Since 1992, the EPA has established requirements designed to protect agriculture workers and pesticide handlers from the risk of pesticide-related illness or injury. These federal regulations are the Agricultural WPS. The principles of WPS are to inform agricultural employees about pesticide safety, protect them from potential pesticide exposure, and to mitigate pesticide exposures when they do occur. 

As part of the revisions, agricultural employees must be trained on an annual basis and handlers and early-entry workers must be at least 18 years old. Therefore any employee that has been trained in 2016 will need to be retrained using the new WPS materials prior to the anniversary of their training date in 2017. Any employees that were trained prior to 2016 will need to receive training on or before January 2, 2017. All employees will be required to be trained annually on or before the anniversary of their training date.

There is no longer a grace period for WPS training. Workers must be trained before they work in an area where a pesticide has been used or a restricted-entry interval has been in effect in the past 30 days.

Only certified applicators and persons who have completed an EPA-approved train-the-trainer course are eligible to provide this training. The content of the training for both workers and handlers has also been expanded. However, the new training materials for handlers are not currently available so it is permissible to use the old materials for handlers through 2017.

Agricultural employers are also now required to keep verification records of WPS trainings for two years and provide a copy of these records to workers and handlers upon their request.

The new “How to Comply With the 2015 Revised Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides” manual can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/NewWPSResources. This link has a wealth of resources to include links to training videos, training verification cards and much more.