Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Be Sure to Train Your Pesticide Handlers

Last week IFCA informed our members of the new USEPA law which has expanded some aspects of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS).  It is now a federal requirement that pesticide employers train all employees who handle pesticides such as mixing, loading, repackaging or applying pesticides.  If you are only handling unopened pesticide containers, you are not a handler and the training requirement does not apply.  
In the past, ag retail employees were mostly exempt from this training requirement.  But now, only licensed commercial applicators are exempt.  Licensed pesticide operators are NOT exempt from the training.  We realize that we commonly think of licensed operators as "applicators" since they are actually applying the pesticides in the field, but according to the law, only licensed applicators are exempt.  Taking the general standards exam and getting your operator license does not exempt you from this training requirement.  Also, anyone who works on or repairs equipment (such as a sprayer) that may contain pesticide residues must be trained.  
The training must be given before the person performs any handling tasks.  Training must be conducted annually and you must keep a record of when the training occurred, who conducted the training, evidence of their qualification to train, the employer's name, and what training materials were used.  The handler must also sign by their name that they attended the training.  You must use USEPA approved training materials.  Only certified applicators are qualified to give the training, or someone who has gone through the USEPA "Train the Trainer" program.  
In addition, there are new respiratory requirements for handling certain pesticides, such as Gramoxone, Lorsban 4E, Aztec 2.1G and others.  Please refer to the Asmark Institute WPS poster to determine which products require a respirator; any product on the poster with a red dot indicates the respirator requirement, and the employer must provide a medical evaluation and respirator training for those employees.  

Go to to access WPS training materials, the "How to Comply" manual and an overview of the rules, including information on the OSHA respirator standard.  The Illinois Dept of Ag will check for WPS compliance during their inspection program, so be sure to get your handlers trained prior to the pesticide application season.  If you have questions or need assistance please call IFCA.