Worker protection requirement changes

Tony Nye - OSU Extension

It’s hard to believe we are this far into November and still having wonderful fall-like weather. Don’t get too comfortable, winter is near. Fortunately, our weather experts are predicting a fairly mild winter.

As the seasons change, we too in agriculture continue to see more and more changes we have to deal with in our day-to-day management of our farms. These are not all bad changes we are experiencing, I am just pointing out we in agriculture are being asked to be more transparent in our businesses.

Just take into account some of the changes (and there are a lot more depending on your operation):

• Fertilizer use restrictions.

• Manure application restrictions.

• Antibiotics use in livestock production will soon be changing.

• Tax changes including CAUV.

• Commodity prices lower than they have been.

• Higher rent values for land to farm.

And now, we will be seeing Worker Protection Standards changing that may impact some farm operations.

Owners of farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses that use pesticides in agricultural plant production will have to implement additional safeguards for their pesticide handlers and agricultural workers under a revision to the Worker Protection Standard.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the new rules in the Federal Register Nov. 2. Compliance with most of the new rules will be required by January 2017, said Mary Ann Rose, program director for Ohio State University Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program.

New training content will not be required until January 2018.The increased frequencies of training and new record-keeping requirements are probably the biggest changes we will see.

According to Rose, the EPA has enacted these changes to reduce exposure events and illnesses associated with pesticides, as well as to offer farm workers protections similar to those industrial workers receive under Occupational Safety and Health Administration hazardous chemical regulations.

Some of the changes include:

• Pesticide handlers and early-entry workers now must be at least 18 years old.

• Agricultural workers and pesticide handlers must receive annual safety training, and content has been expanded.

• The grace period for new employees is eliminated, and workers must now be trained before entering areas that have been restricted due to pesticide application during past 30 days.

• Safety data sheets must be posted with the pesticide application information and a safety poster must be displayed at a central location.

• If required to use a respirator by the label, handlers must have a medical evaluation, fit test and training.

• Outdoor production areas will require posting with warning signs if the pesticide used has a restricted entry interval exceeding 48 hours.

• A new requirement stipulates that records of pesticide applications, training verification, and respirator compliance must be maintained for two years.

• Workers or their designated representative may request pesticide application records.

Rose notes the family exemption under WPS has been expanded to include in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins. The family exemption eliminates many WPS requirements, but not the requirement for personal protective equipment, restricted entry intervals, or other restrictions during applications.

Rose says the biggest impact will be on horticultural growers who have many workers harvesting crops and maintaining plants, but remember the rules also apply to agronomic crop production, although with fewer workers impacted.

The Ohio Pesticide Safety Education Program provides training, education and outreach to pesticide applicators about the safe, effective and legal use of pesticides. The program works with farmers, businesses and public agencies to protect human health and the environment and serves as a critical part of job training and business growth in Ohio.

SWCD work group

Finally this week, The Clinton Soil & Water Conservation District will host a Local Work Group Meeting at the Soil & Water office, 111 S. Nelson Ave., Suite 5, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 9:30 a.m. The purpose of the LWG is to provide guidance to NRCS field offices concerning the implementation and delivery of conservation programs.

The LWG supports the locally-led conservation effort by coordinating USDA programs with other Federal, State, Tribal and local conservation programs to provide an integrated solution to addressing natural resource concerns.

Local people, conservation district leadership, and USDA will assess their natural resource conditions and needs, set goals, identify ways to solve resource problems, utilize a broad array of programs to implement solutions, and measure their success. Locally-led conservation is based on the principle that local people make the best decisions for their own communities. They will develop and implement conservation programs that fully reflect local needs and priorities.

If you have questions regarding this meeting contact the Clinton Soil & Water Conservation office at 937-382- 2461, ext. 3.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for Small Farm Programs and an OSU Extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, for Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

Tony Nye

OSU Extension