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Issue No. 8, Article 1/May 19, 2006

Revised WPS How to Comply Manual

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, designed to limit workers' exposure to pesticides, reduce adverse health effects when exposure occurs, and inform and educate workers about hazards associated with occupational pesticide exposure. If you are involved in producing agricultural plants on a farm or in a forest, nursery, or greenhouse, you must comply with all or part of the WPS provisions if you (1) own or manage such sites where pesticides are used and hire or contract for the services of even one person, (2) operate a business in which you or your employees apply pesticides to such sites, or (3) operate a business in which you or your employees perform tasks as crop advisers.

Compliance instructions for this law are contained in the U.S. EPA Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides How to Comply (HTC) Manual, which was published in 1993. The manual was revised in September 2005 to incorporate the 1995, 1996, and 2004 WPS amendments and administrative exceptions, including the following:

  • change in the WPS worker training requirement that requires untrained workers be provided basic pesticide information before entering pesticide-treated areas (revised manual, pp. 21-22; 1993 manual, pp. 25-26)
  • reduction in the number of days decontamination supplies must be available to workers after application of low-risk pesticides, and the requirement that the supplies are to be located together (revised 24-25, previous 29-30)
  • modification in the language requirements for treated-area warning signs (revised 34, previous 43)
  • modification in the size requirements for treated-area warning signs (revised 35, previous 43)
  • early-entry exception for irrigation tasks and for limited contact tasks (revised 47-48, previous 59-60)
  • optional use of separable glove liners beneath chemical-resistant gloves (revised 65, previous 83)
  • optional wearing of gloves by agricultural pilots when entering or leaving aircraft (revised 67, previous 87)
  • exemption for certified or licensed crop advisers and persons under their direct supervision (revised 74-79, previous 95-98)

The official name of the HTC manual was also changed, to How to Comply with the Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides: What Employers Need to Know.

Though your old (1993 version) HTC manual may be marked up and familiar to you, the EPA warns that it is obsolete and that its use may lead you to be out of compliance. In late January 2006, the agency distributed a limited number of revised HTC manuals to each state. Your options for obtaining the revised manual follow:

1. Contact Scott Frank (217-785-2427) with the Illinois Department of Agriculture for a free copy (printed or on CD-ROM, which contains additional compliance assistance resources). Supplies are limited.

2. Contact your local University of Illinois Extension unit office. Due to the limited supply made available by the EPA, each office received only six hard copies of the manual and one CD-ROM for reproduction, loan, and/or distribution as each office deems appropriate.

3. Visit the EPA Web site and print the 141-page manual (available as a single document as well as by chapter). In addition, you can print the 2-page "WPS Quick Reference Guide," which summarizes the maximum WPS requirements. To request the manual on CD-ROM from EPA, contact the National Ag Compliance Assistance Center (agcenter@epa.gov; toll-free 1-888-663-2155). When ordering, use EPA document number EPA 305-C-05-001.

4. EPA has informed us that some of the major personal protection equipment and agricultural/horticultural supply companies (such as Gemplers) are planning to sell the revised HTC manual.--Bruce E. Paulsrud

Bruce Paulsrud

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