PESTICIDE LAW AND POLICY BLOG

EPA Publishes Worker Protection Standard Final Rule
Posted on November 02, 2015 by Lisa M. Campbell

By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi

In a November 2, 2015, Federal Register notice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  issued the final rule revising the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Worker Protection Standard (WPS).  EPA previously announced these revisions on September 28, 2015, and stated that it would issue the final rule in the Federal Register within 60 days. 

The following are important dates:

  • January 4, 2016:  The date when the final WPS rule is effective.
  • January 4, 2017:  The date by which agricultural employers and handler employers will be required to comply with all of the new requirements set forth in the final rule except for the ones listed below.
  • January 4, 2018 (Or 180 Days After An EPA Announcement That Training Materials Are Available, Whichever Is Later):  The date by which agricultural employers and handler employers will be required to comply with certain new requirements for the content of pesticide safety training for workers and handlers and pesticide safety information display (to be codified at 40 C.F.R. § 170.311(a)(3), 40 C.F.R. § 170.401(c)(3), and 40 C.F.R. § 170.501(c)(3)).  EPA states it delayed implementation of the final rule regarding certain training and display materials to provide agricultural employers and handler employers time for such materials to be updated, printed, and distributed as well as to allow time for existing trainers to familiarize themselves with those new materials.
  • January 4, 2018:  The date by which agricultural employers and handler employers will be required to comply with the requirement that the handler performing an application must immediately suspend a pesticide application if any worker or other person, other than an appropriately trained and equipped handler involved in the application, is in the application exclusion zone described in § 170.405(a)(1) or the area specified in column B of the Table in § 170.405(b)(4) (to be codified at 40 C.F.R. 170.505(b)). 

EPA also states that it is “committed to a robust outreach, communications and training effort to communicate the new rule requirements to affected WPS stakeholders.”  EPA has stated its intent to do the following to facilitate implementation:

  • Issue plain language “how to comply” fact sheets and guidance materials.
  • Develop compliance assistance materials that are targeted to specific agricultural sectors and rule requirements, such as respirator requirements or the WPS exemptions and exceptions.
  • Develop and disseminate new worker and handler training materials, conduct outreach to potentially affected parties, and provide assistance and resources to States and Tribes for WPS implementation.
  • Hold Pesticide Regulatory Education Program courses for State and Tribal pesticide program staff that will focus on WPS implementation, and Pesticide Inspector Residential Training courses for State and Tribal pesticide inspectors that will focus on WPS inspection requirements.

The details of the WPS final rule are discussed in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) blog entry EPA Announces Revisions to Its Worker Protection Standard.

For more information, please see B&C’s memorandum Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2015 and James V. Aidala Comments on EPA’s Worker Protection Standards.  More information is also available on EPA’s Worker Protection Standard webpage.

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