The WPS applies to you if: 
You own or operate an agricultural establishment directly related to the production of an agricultural plant. Even if you are the owner of a farm, forest, nursery, or an enclosed space production facility (e.g., greenhouse, grow house, hoop house, high tunnel) and you or members of your immediate family do all the work, you are a WPS employer and must comply with some of the requirements.
You hire or contract for the services of agricultural workers to do tasks related to the production of agricultural plants on an agricultural establishment. This includes hiring labor contractors and others who contract with growers to supply workers or handlers to work on your agricultural establishment. The labor contractor can be assigned WPS responsibilities, but is not responsible for your WPS compliance.
You employ researchers who help produce agricultural plants. There is an exemption from the WPS requirements when conducting research on unregistered pesticides. This exemption DOES NOT include research on unregistered uses of a registered pesticide product or maintenance pesticide applications applied to agricultural plants subject to research.
You operate a business in which you (or people you employ) apply pesticides used for the production of an agricultural plant. Commercial pesticide handlers and their employees are included in the WPS even if some of the pesticide handling tasks (mixing, loading, disposal, etc.) take place somewhere other than the agricultural establishment being treated. An example would be mixing/loading at the commercial handling establishment or an airport hangar.
You operate a business in which you (or people you employ) perform tasks as a crop advisor on an agricultural establishment. Crop advisor means any person who is assessing pest numbers or damage, pesticide distribution, or the status, condition, or requirements of agricultural plants. Examples include crop consultants and field scouts.

The above table was taken from the EPA's How to Comply with the Worker Protection Standard manual (2015).

Responsibilities of employers

Agricultural employers must ensure pesticides are used in compliance with the label and WPS. They must provide protections required by WPS to workers and handlers. Employers must train employees prior to worker and handler tasks and not allow others to work unless told about potential pesticide exposure. Additionally, employers must keep records detailing pesticide applications and training.

Minimum Age

The minimum age for early entry workers and handlers is 18 years of age with the exception of immediate family.

Pesticide information

Prior to worker or handler activities employers must provide information regarding pesticides, application, and details of the establishment to employees. Information listed below must be posted in a central area, and at permanent decontamination areas (or those which serve 11 or more employees). All information must be available for employees and be kept up-to-date. Information must be provided at the request of workers or handlers or their designated representative. The information includes:

Information Details Timing Where to Post
Pesticide safety information EPA WPS safety poster or equivalent information. Must include additional information starting Jan. 2, 2018. Before application to 30 days after REI expiration. Central area and decontamination areas
Application information Product name, EPA registration number, active ingredient, crop or site treated, location and description of treated area, application date, application start and end times, duration of restricted entry interval (REI). Within 24 hours of application, prior to workers entering treated area, to 30 days after REI expiration. Central area
Safety data sheets (SDSs) Where to find SDSs? Within 24 hours of application, prior to workers entering treated area, to 30 days after REI  Central area
Establishment-specific information Workers and handlers must be provided information on pesticide safety, pesticide application and hazard information, and decontamination supplies. Prior to completing tasks if in the last 30 days a WPS-pesticide has been applied or an REI is in effect. No posting necessary

Commercial pesticide employers are exempt from information display requirements and providing establishment-specific information.

Employer information exchange

When an owner of an agricultural establishment hires a commercial pesticide handler employer, including crop advisors, they must provide the commercial employer with specific information regarding treated areas, REIs and any other restrictions.

Pesticide safety training

All workers and handlers must receive annual pesticide safety training prior to entering sites where pesticides have been applied or an REI has been in effect within the past 30 days. Training must be completed prior to performing tasks. Workers and handlers are exempt if they are certified applicators or certified crop advisors. Training must be completed by a qualified trainer using EPA-approved pesticide safety training materials. The training must be completed in a way employees understand and the trainer must be present during the training. Records of training must be kept for two years. For more information on pesticide safety training visit the WPS Pesticide Safety Training page. Expanded training content is required starting January 2, 2018.

Decontamination supplies 

Employers must have pesticide decontamination supplies onsite for routine washing, emergency decontamination, and eye flushing within 1/4 mile of workers and handlers. Supplies include:

  • 1 gallon of water per worker and 3 gallons of water per handler.
  • Soap and single-use towels.
  • Clean clothing for handlers.

Decontamination supplies must be provided:

  • Within 1/4 mile of workers and handlers.
  • Where handlers remove personal protective equipment (PPE) at the end of a task.
  • At mixing and loading sites.
  • Do not place decontamination supplies in treated areas unless in closed containers.

Eyewash stations are required for pesticides requiring eye protection at mixing and loading areas. Stations must provide 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes or 6 gallons of water to provide a gentle eye flush for 15 minutes. In addition, 1 pint of water, in a portable container, must be available immediately for each handler.

Emergency assistance

Employers must provide transportation and emergency information in the case of possible poisoning or injury within. Information regarding the pesticide must be provided to medical providers including SDSs, product name, EPA registration number, active ingredients, how the pesticide was used and circumstances resulting in pesticide exposure.

Recordkeeping

Employers must keep records of pesticide safety training, pesticide application and hazard information for two years. Workers and handlers, medical personnel or designated representatives may request access to the records.

Personal protective equipment

Employers must provide employees with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) as required by the pesticide label including proper respiratory protection.

Supervisors

Employers who employ worker and handler supervisors must provide sufficient information to the supervisor to ensure compliance with the WPS. Specifically outline supervisor tasks and the information they must provide to workers and handlers.

 


Additional information for employers

Application restrictions

Employers must keep workers out of application areas during pesticide applications including the AEZ or a specified area during enclosed applications.

Restricted entry intervals

Workers must be kept out of treated areas until the REI has expired. 

Notice of applications

Workers must be notified orally and treated areas posted if required by the label. If not required by the label, post warning signs if the REI is greater than 48 hours (outdoor application) or 4 hours (enclosed space application). For all other applications warn workers either orally or post warning signs.

Application restrictions and monitoring

Handlers are required to apply pesticides correctly. Handlers must stop applications if anyone enters the application exclusion zone (goes into effect January 2, 2018). If handlers use a highly toxic pesticide (skull and crossbones) contact must be maintained every two hours. A trained handler must keep in contact with handlers within an enclosed space fumigant application.

Equipment safety

Pesticide equipment must be inspected daily. Allow only trained handlers to maintain equipment unless they are not employed on the establishment.

Personal protective equipment

Handlers must be provided with appropriate PPE in good condition including respirators. PPE must be inspected for wear and damage. A pesticide-free area must be provided for putting on and taking off PPE. Pesticide contaminated PPE should be stored away from personal clothing. PPE should be discarded when heavily contaminated following appropriate regulations for disposal.

Replacing respirators

Particulate respirator purifying elements must be replaced if breathing becomes difficult, the filter is damaged, the label requires it, or after 8 hours of use. Vapor respirator purifying elements need to be replaced if odor is noticed, if the label requires it, if breathing becomes difficult, or after 8 hours of use.

If you own a commercial pesticide application business or provide crop-consulting services you are considered a commercial pesticide employer. Commercial pesticide employers must comply with all WPS regulations outlined above as well as specific provisions outlined below.

Information exchange: commercial employer to agricultural employer

A commercial employer must inform the establishment owner about pesticide applications including the location, date, time, pesticide, REI, and any other pesticide specific information. If the information changes the agricultural employer must be informed.

There is a WPS exception for research done on unregistered pesticides. However, there is not an exception for research done on registered pesticides for unregistered uses and WPS regulations must be followed, including following the label.

If you employ immediate family on your establishment they are exempt from several WPS provisions (see How to Comply with WPS manual, page 90) if the establishment is majority owned by the same family. Immediate family includes the following:

  • Spouses
  • Parents, stepparents, foster parents
  • Father-in-law, mother-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law
  • grandparents
  • Stepchildren, foster children, grandchildren
  • Brothers, sisters
  • Aunts, uncles
  • Nieces, nephews
  • First cousins (child of parent's sibling)

Employers and their immediate family must follow the below provisions of WPS:

There are certain WPS exemptions which apply only to certified crop advisors. Non-certified crop advisors must be provided WPS protections, including those who are self-employed.

Certified crop advisors may determine the appropriate PPE to wear during an REI. In addition, the employer of a certified crop advisor does not need to provide:

  • Decontamination supplies
  • Emergency assistance 
  • Access to labeling
  • Information to make sure they can comply with WPS