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EPA Proposes New Safety Measures to Protect Farm Workers from Pesticide Exposure

Release Date: 02/20/2014
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn, Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov, 202-564-7849, 202-564-4355; CONTACTO EN ESPAÑOL: Lina Younes, Younes.lina@epa.gov, 202-564-9924, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON —Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard in order to protect the nation’s two million farm workers and their families from pesticide exposure.

“Today marks an important milestone for the farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest the food that we put on our tables each day,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. “EPA’s revised Worker Protection Standard will afford farm workers similar health protections to those already enjoyed by workers in other jobs. Protecting our nation’s farm workers from pesticide exposure is at the core of EPA’s work to ensure environmental justice.”

EPA is proposing significant improvements to worker training regarding the safe usage of pesticides, including how to prevent and effectively treat pesticide exposure. Increased training and signage will inform farm workers about the protections they are afforded under the law and will help them protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposure.

Workers and others near treated fields will now be protected from pesticide overspray and fumes. In addition, EPA has proposed that children under 16 be legally barred from handling all pesticides, with an exemption for family farms. These revisions protect workers while ensuring agricultural productivity and preserving the traditions of family farms.

This proposal represents more than a decade of extensive stakeholder input by federal and state partners and from across the agricultural community including farm workers, farmers, and industry on the current EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) for Agricultural Pesticides first established in 1992.

For more information on the EPA’s Proposed Worker Protection Standard: http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/safety/workers/proposed/index.html