Worker Protection Standard

The United States Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) gives the EPA the authority to regulate pesticides. In 1995 the EPA adopted the Pesticide Worker Protection Standard (WPS), 40 CFR 170. The WPS seeks to reduce pesticide exposure through four primary interventions: use of personal protection equipment, posted pesticide safety information, decontamination, and restricted entry intervals. The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 mandated a massive re-registration of pesticides to occur over a period of years. Since the WPS requires that all pesticide label instructions be followed, the FQPA may result in increased protections afforded to agriculture pesticide handlers. The EPA is the lead enforcement agency for the WPS but has delegated much of this responsibility to the states. In most states the state Department of Agriculture administers the WPS (3).

When pesticides are used that require respiratory protection, a respiratory protection program must be in place in accordance with OSHA general respiratory protection regulation, 29 CFR 1910.134. All respirator users must undergo an initial medical evaluation regarding their fitness to use a respirator under their specific working conditions. This medical evaluation is repeated at the recommendation of the evaluating health care provider, whenever work conditions change, or whenever a change in the employee's physical status may affect respirator use. Annual respirator fit testing and training is also required.

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