The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulates the protection of employees on agricultural establishments in outdoor or enclosed space production on farms forests, nurseries and greenhouses or wind tunnels from occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides. The WPS was fully implemented in January 1995 and revised in 2015. The revised WPS became effective in January 2017.


    Employees that mix, load, or apply pesticides or perform tasks that bring them into direct contact with pesticides (e.g. cleaning or repairing application equipment, mixing and loading pesticides). Under the WPS all pesticide handlers must at least 18 years old.


    Employees that perform hand labor tasks related to plant production (e.g. weeding, cultivating, harvesting).

    The time immediately after a pesticide application when entry into the treated area is limited. REI information is found on the pesticide label.

    General WPS requirements

    Specific WPS pesticide safety training is required for both Agricultural Workers and Pesticide Handlers. The training must be conducted by a qualified trainer using EPA-approved training material and completed before workers enter a treated area and pesticide handlers perform any handler task. Pesticide safety training is required once every 12 months.

    Agricultural Workers or Pesticide Handlers that are currently licensed as Minnesota Commercial or Non-commercial Pesticide Applicators or Private Pesticide Applicators are exempt from the pesticide safety training requirement.

    • Pesticide safety information:  A poster developed by EPA, PERC or other entity can be used as long as it provides all  required WPS pesticide safety concepts.
    • Pesticide application information: must include all  required information
    • Hazard information: A copy of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each pesticide product applied.
    • Pesticide safety information:  A poster developed by EPA, PERC or other entity can be used as long as it includes all required WPS pesticide safety concepts.
    • This information must also be displayed at non-permanent decontamination sites when supplies are required in quantities for 11 workers or more.

    Includes: Soap, water and disposable (single-use) towels. Allows the worker to wash when leaving a pesticide treated area or if they have come in contact with a pesticide or pesticide residue.

    • Must be placed within a quarter mile of where the workers are working
    • Must be in place for 30 days following a pesticide application

    Decontamination supplies must be provided to Pesticide Handlers when they are mixing, loading or applying pesticides, or performing other handler tasks.

    In addition to soap, water and disposable (single-use) towels, Pesticide Handlers also need a change of clothing available in case of a pesticide spill. Handlers can carry decontamination supplies with them in the application equipment or in the tender truck.

    If the pesticide label requires “protective eyewear” when mixing or loading or the handlers are mixing or loading any pesticide using a closed system operating under pressure, the Pesticide Handler must have an emergency eye flushing station at the mixing/loading site.

    When the Pesticide Handler is applying a pesticide requiring “protective eyewear”, then one pint of water must be immediately available to each applicator in a portable container.

    In case of pesticide injury or illness, the employer must provide (arrange for) transportation to a medical facility and provide pesticide label information to medical personnel and to the employee.

    Employer Information Exchange

    Before any application, Commercial Pesticide Handlers must inform the Ag Employer where and when a pesticide application will take place. Details must include:

    • Location and description of area to be treated
    • Date and start and estimated end times of the application
    • Product name, EPA registration number, active ingredient(s) and REI
    • Whether the pesticide product labeling requires posting, oral notification or both
    • Any other specific worker or other persons safety requirements found on the labeling
    • Location and description of any treated area on the ag establishment under an REI that the Handler may be in or walk within a quarter mile of and specific restrictions
    • Length of the REI.

    When a pesticide is applied that has a skull and crossbones on the label the applicator must be monitored by sight or voice communication once every two hours. During the application of a fumigant in an enclosed space production area, another Pesticide Handler stationed immediately outside of the enclosed space must maintain constant visual or voice contact with the applicator.

    The Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) is the area surrounding the application equipment during outdoor production pesticide applications. The size of the AEZ is determined by the application method and the spray quality. Once the application is complete, the AEZ no longer exists and the REI becomes effective for the treated area.

    Effective January 2, 2017: An Agricultural Employer must not allow any workers or other persons in the AEZ  within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment during the application

    Effective January 2, 2018: Pesticide Handlers must suspend pesticide applications if any person enters or is in the AEZ

    During pesticide applications in enclosed space production areas, the Agricultural Employer must not allow or direct any worker or other person, other than the handler(s) involved with the application, to enter or to remain in specific areas for specific times or conditions. The restrictions depend on the types of pesticides or application methods used.

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    The pesticide product label specifies the minimum level of PPE that must be worn when mixing, loading and applying pesticides, and for early-entry workers to enter a pesticide treated area that is under a REI.

    When a pesticide label requires a respirator to be worn the employer must provide the handler, prior to using a respirator, with the following:

    • Medical evaluation
    • Fit testing
    • Annual respirator training

    Records of the medical determination, fit testing and respirator training must be kept for two years.

    Equipment Safety

    Pesticide application equipment and PPE must be cleaned, inspected and maintained on a regular basis.

    Entry during a Restricted Entry Interval (REI)

    Early-entry workers must:

    • be at least 18 years old
    • receive specific instructions prior to early entry in a manner that the worker can understand
    • read the applicable pesticide labeling or be informed, in a manner the worker can understand, of all labeling statements related to human hazards or precautions, first aid and user safety
    • wear PPE for early-entry workers as stated on the pesticide label

    The decontamination supplies for early entry must meet the standards required for handlers. If the pesticide label requires “protective eyewear”, one pint of water in a portable container must be immediately available to each early-entry worker.

    Notice of Application/Entry Restrictions (Oral Warnings & Posting)

    Employers must notify workers of pesticide applications and of the entry restrictions for each situation if the worker will be within a quarter mile of the pesticide application site or an existing REI. Notification can be given orally or by posting warning signs.

    • Posting of warning signs:
      • in outdoor production areas with REI GREATER THAN 48 HOURS, workers must be notified by posting warning signs
      • in enclosed space production areas with REI GREATER THAN FOUR HOURS, workers must be notified by posting warning signs
    • Posting of warning signs OR giving oral warning:
      • in outdoor production areas with a REI EQUAL to or LESS THAN 48 HOURS, workers must be notified either by posting warning signs or by giving them oral warning
      • in enclosed space production areas with a REI EQUAL to or LESS THAN FOUR HOURS, workers must be notified by posting warning signs or by giving them oral warning

    Oral warning must include the location of the treated area, dates and times of entry restriction, and instructions not to enter the treated area or AEZ during an application.
    Some pesticide labels require double notification. In such cases the workers must be notified by posting warning signs AND by giving them oral warning.

    For details about the WPS, refer to the manual “How to Comply With the 2015 Revised Worker Protection Standard For Agricultural Pesticides”.

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