Must Ag Employees Get Handler Training for Transporting Pesticides?

January 16, 2024

When I get a question from one of our growers, I like to do research and get them an answer. I then share the answer, along with some context about them, in the hopes you may find it useful if your farm is in a similar situation.

Grower

Location: Wenatchee, WA

Number of employees: 55

Crops: Apples, Cherries, Pears

H-2A: Yes

Question

If I send an employee to pick up some pesticides from the dealer, is that employee required to receive Worker Protection Standard For Handlers training?

Answer

No, but you should anyway! In Washington, the code explicitly defines that a "(c)...[pesticide handler] does not include any person who is only handling unopened pesticide containers..."

I asked Jeff Lutz, from the Washington State Farm Bureau Safety team about this and he said "...if I’m supervising employees that have ANYTHING to do with pesticides I’m likely going to WPS certify them."

Here is why you should anyway: when delivering the pesticides to the ranch will the employee be involved in any way with equipment that was exposed to pesticides? There is a broad list of activities that cause an employee to be considered a handler, including "cleaning, repairing, or handling" equipment that may contain pesticide residues. A common area that growers miss is training shop and maintenance workers as pesticide handlers. This may not be immediately obvious because those mechanics aren't directly involved in the pesticide spray process. However, under the definition above, they are required to have the additional Worker Protection Standard For Handlers training. 

The additional training for handlers is worth a 38 minute video to avoid violations/fines, and potential lawsuits. Harvust's training tools have your employees do training from their phone, making it effortless on your end. We make sure you're using EPA-approved content, in the employee's language, with a qualified trainer available remotely to answer questions, and automatic record keeping. Here are the key requirements for handler training under the Worker Protection Standard (WPS):

Exceptions include certified applicators or licensed crop advisors.

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Author

James Christopher Hall

For 5 years, as the co-owner of Harvust, James has built farm labor management tools. Every year he spends a day working in the fields of Harvust customers to understand the problems they and their employees face. James has seen first-hand the needs of thousands of farmworkers, and the human resources professionals that they rely on. That experience drives him to continue working to make managing farm labor better for employers and employees.