Farmers hear about worker protection rules

Karol Osborne, Schultz, Bruce  |  2/16/2017 5:23:15 PM

(02/13/17) DELHI, La. – New worker protection standards will require more work and record-keeping on farm operations, Carol Pinnell-Alison, LSU AgCenter county agent in Franklin Parish, told producers at the Northeast Louisiana Crops Forum on Feb. 9.

Some of the new regulations went into effect in 2016, with additional changes being phased in this year and full implementation set for Jan. 1, 2018, she said.

“The changes are substantial, and producers are encouraged to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, refer to the WPS Quick Reference Guide and review the available checklists to be familiar with the new requirements and ensure compliance,” Pinnell-Alison said.

Changes with the greatest impact for producers include worker age restrictions, exclusion zones, employee training, record-keeping and posting requirements, she said.

“Employers of agricultural workers and handlers should be aware that the green and blue training cards previously issued are no longer valid under the new WPS regulations,” Pinnell-Alison said.

To apply or handle pesticides, or enter fields where pesticides have been applied before the re-entry interval has expired, employees must be 18 years old or older except for immediate family members. Exemptions for family members have been expanded under the new regulations, she said.

Exclusion zone restrictions for private and commercial applicators using either aerial or ground rigs have been modified to 100 feet for application with an aircraft or air-blast sprayer, or 25 feet otherwise, to ensure no one is in the area around a sprayer or aerial applicator during application, Pinnell-Alison said.

Employers are encouraged to become certified trainers because a grace period is no longer allowed for new hires, and new employees on a farm must be trained their first day on the job, she said.

A certified trainer must be either a private or commercial certified applicator who has completed an approved program. The AgCenter no longer administers pesticide certification testing, but trainer programs are available by contacting the AgCenter, she said.

Employers must adhere to stricter record keeping for worker training and pesticide application postings. Postings fields is now required for any pesticide that has a re-entry interval of 48-hours or longer, Pinnell-Alison said.

During the meeting, LSU AgCenter Associate Vice President Rogers Leonard thanked farmers and industry representatives for their support of the AgCenter and said the AgCenter priority is to continue to deliver research-based education programs.

Re-missioning the research stations and changes in the extension agricultural and natural resources programs will continue, but the core programs will remain the same. “In northeast Louisiana, the research stations we have will continue to exist,” Leonard said.

Two vacancies, an entomologist and state soybean specialist, will be filled soon, he said.

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Carol Pinnell-Alison, LSU AgCenter county agent in Franklin Parish, speaks to told producers at the Northeast Louisiana Crops Forum on Feb. 9. Agricultural employers should follow new WPS regulations on posting safety information and pesticide application records in order to be in compliance of the new rules, she said. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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