Pesticides can be hazardous to workers if they are exposed to them through the skin, eyes, by mouth, or in the air they breathe. Agricultural pesticide handlers should get the proper certificates, permits, and training to use pesticides safely, correctly, and according to the requirements of the law.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) governs pesticide use in agricultural operations and classifies pesticides as “general” or “restricted” use. Workers must be certified to buy, use, or supervise the use of restricted pesticides and usually require a permit from the local County Agricultural Commissioner to do so.
Workers must read and follow all of the requirements on the pesticide product label in order to use it safely and correctly. Pesticide labels give directions for proper mixing, application, storage, and disposal of the material and its containers. Labels also list the requirements for engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Engineering controls required by pesticide labels may include closed application and mixing systems that reduce worker exposure during use. Workers require training on this equipment and it should be properly maintained and inspected prior to each use. Product level gauges should be functional and pesticide container sizes and shapes should be compatible with the closed system hatches to maintain system integrity.
PPE required for pesticide applicators varies depending on the material and the application method—product labels must be carefully reviewed. Workers must use all of the PPE required on the pesticide label every time. PPE for pesticide application may include coveralls, eye protection, protective gloves and footwear, chemical resistant aprons and hoods, and respiratory protection. Workers require extra, clean coveralls to change into if they become soiled or soaked with pesticide. Workers under age 18 may not mix or load a pesticide that requires air supplied respiratory protection, a closed system, or full-body chemical-resistant clothing.
Decontamination facilities with adequate supplies of soap, water, and towels must be provided to workers using pesticides. Emergency eyewashes must be immediately available. Emergency medical care information should also be posted at the worksite. Workers should use proper hygiene by washing hands and face and changing clothes before leaving the worksite.
Warnings must be posted at the site of a pesticide field application. Workers should monitor weather and other factors that may affect the application process and the safety and health of humans and animals near the application site. Records of pesticide use should be maintained. Pesticide containers must be handled properly by storing them in a secure place and disposing or recycling them according to product label requirements. Pesticides should never be stored in unlabeled containers, especially those that may appear to be food containers (cans or bottles).
For further information about pesticide regulations, contact the California Department of Pesticide Control or your local County Agricultural Commissioner, which may have more stringent requirements than the DPR.
The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations, or standards.