2021 WPS Training Update: New AEZ Requirements

Next week marks the beginning of the fourth annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month! That’s why our next few blogs will highlight the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Worker Protection Standard (WPS). 

Today, we’re looking at the revised 2020 WPS Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements that the EPA approved in October 2020. But first, if you’re not yet a certified applicator (but want to be) or you’re not sure if your employer or your business needs WPS training, here’s a basic summary:

WPS aims to reduce pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers by requiring employers to provide training that covers the following topics:

  • Pesticide product safety
    • Reading labels
    • Following directions
  • Pesticide application
    • Best health practices during application
    • Restricted Entry Intervals training
    • Posting signage to protect workers from entering areas that have been recently sprayed
  • Use of protective equipment
  • Pesticide handling
  • Decontamination practices

2020 AEZ Requirement Updates

On December 29, 2020, the EPA enacted updates to the AEZ provisions under the WPS that “improve enforceability for state regulators and reduce regulatory burdens for farmers.

The final rule prohibits applicators from using a pesticide in a manner that would result in sprays contacting unprotected individuals either directly or through drift. Here are some of the biggest changes to the AEZ provisions: 

  • Agricultural employers and handlers can make or resume applications when individuals are in an area subject to an easement, provided that the handler can ensure that the application will not contact those individuals.
  • EZ requirements are limited to within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment, removing off-farm responsibilities that were proving difficult for state regulators to enforce. No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision.
  • Criteria for deciding whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ are simplified.

Click here for a complete FAQ document from the EPA that describes all the changes in great detail.

Who needs to comply with the WPS?

  • Any employer or employee of an agricultural or commercial business that handles pesticides, including farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses.
  • Any employer of agricultural workers who work in places sprayed with pesticides within the last 30 days or have high-contact agricultural tasks like weeding, moving irrigation equipment, pruning, and harvesting.

To be compliant with the EPA, you or your employees can complete WPS training using an EPA-approved WPS course.

When you choose our training program, there’s no need to worry about scheduling, organizing the logistics, or tracking records and paperwork. Our system handles it all automatically. Here are some more benefits our program offers:

  • We provide all EPA required documentation.
  • Certificates are downloadable immediately after completing the course.
  • 24/7 access to the program online for an entire year.
  • All video courses are provided in Spanish & English!
  • Save time & money by avoiding the classroom and using our program instead.

If you know of any businesses that need WPS training – click here for more information on our online program!