Revised Worker Protection Standards

— Written By

Effective January 2, 2017, several changes were made to the Worker Protection Standards that will impact any agricultural producer hiring non-family members to perform worker or pesticide handler tasks. The complete guide can be downloaded but a condensed version with informative interactive web links is available at A summary of some of the major changes are that the new guidelines:

  • Eliminate grace period for training workers;
  • Require training to include specific publications and cover specific topics;
  • Allows only license certified applicator to train workers;
  • Mandates a minimum age of 18 to perform task designated for pesticide handlers;
  • Establishes an “application exclusion zone” for all pesticide applications and established guidelines to protect workers and others from potential pesticide exposure;
  • Mandates one eye-washing center for each pesticide mix/load site;
  • Includes greater hazard communication to employees;
  • Mandates that all pesticide SDS be available to workers and at each pesticide application site;
  • Mandates a minimum amount of water to have within the field and varies by classification of worker or pesticide handler;
  • Clearly defines “Immediate family” to include aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces & first cousins;
  • Mandates sharing of pesticide information and application to designated representative identified in writing;
  • Requires that Safety Training and pesticide application records be kept for 2 years;
  • Mandates that REI signage only be required if the REI is greater than 48 hours;
  • Requires that employees provide and pay for respirator fit test, medical evaluation, and respirator safety/use training; and
  • Requires that eye-washing stations have a minimum gallon storage and minimum flow of 0.4 gal/minute for 15 minutes.

Implementation of the new rules should begin immediately. Training videos may be downloaded from the Pesticide Education Resource Collaborative website at This web page will also provide additional training materials and posters as they become available. Local N.C. Cooperative Extension office will offer assistance and training materials as they are available. Additional information and compliance assistance is also available by contacting the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division at (919) 733-3556 or at