New Pesticide Rules for Farmworkers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a 60-day extension for public comment on upcoming rule changes related to farmworker exposure to pesticides. Running through August 18, 2014, the comment period is aimed at gathering public input for the updating of federal regulations governing the use of pesticides in the fields.

“The opportunity to revise the rule may not come again for some time, so we are committed to getting it right,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention.  “Updating the 20-year-old regulation to provide more protections to the nation’s two million farm workers and their families from pesticide exposure is a priority for EPA.”

According to the federal agency, the expanded comment window came about due to requests from farmers, state officials, pesticide industry representatives and farm labor advocates.

In its rule-making process the EPA proposes several changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard.

Among the chief changes under consideration are the expansion of pesticide trainings for workers from once every five years to once every year; increasing mandatory postings of field no-entry signs for all hazardous pesticides; enhancing worker safety measures; improving the ability of states to enforce compliance with pesticide law, including two-year record-keeping requirements for pesticide applications, farmworker trainings and early entry notifications; making pesticide label and Safety Data Sheets available to farmworkers, labor advocates and medical personnel; and easier compliance procedures for farmers.

For the first time under the proposed rule change, children under 16 years of age will be prohibited from handling pesticides, with an exception made for family farms.

For more information or to learn how to participate in the public comment process for changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, readers can go to the following links:

English: http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/safety/workers/proposed/index.html

Spanish:  http://epa.gov/espanol/normativa/proteccionobrera/index.html

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