What to know about Worker Protection Standard revisions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made revisions to the Worker Protection Standard. The changes affect how the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers and families are protected when working with pesticides. The revisions will go into effect when they are published in the Federal Register.

Among the highlights: Children under age 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides, workers’ rights training must be held every year instead of every five years, mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides is expanded and there are new record-keeping requirements.

American Farm Bureau is reviewing the final WPS revisions and said it hopes EPA veered to a science-based approach in guarding against risk.

“Farm Bureau shares the agency’s desire to protect workers, but we are concerned that the agency is piling regulatory costs on farmers and ranchers that bear little if any relation to actual safety issues,” said Paul Schlegel, director of environment and energy policy for AFBF.

AFBF filed extensive comments on the proposal more than a year ago. Then, as now, AFBF said EPA itself could not justify the regulation it was proposing.

“We are hopeful the agency’s final rule will reflect our concerns and protect farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to promote a safe, productive environment,” Schlegel said.