New amendments to WPS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is amending the 1992 Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The two amendments will go into effect August 26, 1996. They are intended to make the WPS more practical and flexible for states and farmers, but maintain safeguards for agricultural workers.

In general, the amendments:

  • change requirements for decontamination stations when lower toxicity pesticides are used,
  • allow the use of languages other than Spanish when appropriate, and
  • simplify posting of pesticide-treated areas in nurseries and greenhouses.

Decontamination stations

The first amendment will decrease, from 30 days to 7 days, the time during which decontamination supplies (soap, water, and single-use towels/paper) must be available to workers entering fields where low toxicity pesticides are used. Low toxicity pesticides are those with restricted entry intervals of 4 hours or less. Until now, the WPS required decontamination supplies to be available whenever a worker performed any activity in a pesticide-treated area or where entry had been restricted within the last 30 days.

WPS warning signs

The second amendment allows employers to replace the Spanish on required warning signs with another language used most often by workers in that location. The English portion of the sign must remain. The existing standards require posting of warning signs visible from all usual worker entry points into treated areas.

Also, as part of the second amendment, the EPA will permit the use of smaller warning signs in nurseries and greenhouses. Signs measuring approximately 4 1/2 x 5 inches can be used if the distance between signs is 25 feet or less. If the distance between signs is 50 feet or less, the signs used should be approximately 7 x 8 inches.

(Source: EPA, June 21, 1996).

This article originally appeared on page 156 of the IC-476(22) -- August 19, 1996 issue.

Updated 08/18/1996 - 1:00pm