California’s Pesticide Worker Laws Updated

Tacy CalliesCalifornia Corner, Citrus, Regulation

pesticideBy Len Wilcox

Effective January 1, California updated its pesticide worker safety standards to comply with the new federal Worker Protection Standard. The update addressed re-entry to application exclusion zones, fieldworker training, new posting requirements, eyewash equipment and hazard communication. It also made other refinements to the state’s existing standards.

Bill Griffin, pesticide supervisor for the Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner, explained the new updates.

“We had a lot of questions on the emergency medical posting,” Griffin said. “Anyone who has employees who apply pesticides has to have emergency medical posting available and visible at the site. If they’re farther away, a quarter mile or more from their mix-load site, the post has to be on the actual tractor or application equipment itself.”

The poster is required to have the name, address and phone number of an emergency medical facility that can be called in the event of a spill.

“That information has to be posted on the tractor in case someone has an emergency with what they’re applying,” Griffin stressed. “The information has to be visible within 25 feet of the tractor or the application equipment. It does not have to be in multiple languages; it can just be English, but it must be visible on the tractor or application equipment. It can’t be in a pocket, a drawer under the seat or something like that. It has to be visible and seen from outside the truck.

“The point is that it’s for everybody else. It’s not for the workers, necessarily, but it’s for anybody else to see. The information is there to help other people assist that person if they do run into some kind of emergency.”

Griffin also discussed eyewash requirements. “If a label requires having eye protection, that automatically triggers the need to have an eyewash,” he said. “This means two things. First, a 1-pint container of eyewash must be with the employee at all times for emergency decontamination of the eyes or washing of the eyes.”

The second requirement is for an eyewash station. “At the mix-loading sites, you are required to have the ability to deliver the equivalent of 6 gallons of water to the employees’ eyes in a way that will allow them to rinse their eyes out effectively,” Griffin said. “That can be done either through an eyewash station or a gravity feed-type container with a hose.”

“The water can be from a well as long as there’s no conditions such as excessive heat or excessive pressure that could hurt the person when they’re trying to wash their eyes out.” If the water source isn’t a well or pipeline, the minimum amount that must be available is 6 gallons of water.

Decontamination water is also clarified in the update.

“It used to say water, soap and towels are sufficient to decontaminate the person’s hands,” said Griffin. “Now it specifically says if you’re more than a quarter mile away from your current mix-load site, you must have the ability to have 3 gallons of water for decontamination, whereas in the past, it just said water.”

Service container labeling is also addressed. “If an accident happens, then that’s something that the emergency crews need to know,” explained Griffin. “So if you are moving pesticide materials in a nurse tank or a bubble or something, and you will be either crossing or moving onto public roadways, or off your own property, then you must identify who owns that material and what it is. You also need its hazard words, such as warning or danger, on that container. So if something does happen, such as it spills or somebody hits it, responding crews will know exactly what it is and how to treat that material.”

Other changes include:

  • Training regulations were clarified. The location of training must be “reasonably free from distraction.” The trainer must be present throughout the training. The record must now include employee name, information about the trainer and his or her materials. The employer must provide the record to a fieldworker upon request.
  • Application-specific displays must now include crop/site treated, start and end time of application, and safety data sheets. Employers must retain these records for two years.
  • Prior to early entry, the employee must now be informed orally of several items, including location of his or her work activities, pesticide(s) applied, date and time the restricted-entry interval begins and ends, and location of required postings.
  • During a fumigation of an enclosed area, employees in the enclosed area must maintain continuous visual or voice contact with another employee stationed immediately outside the enclosed area.

These pesticide worker safety regulations are enforced by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), following federal and state laws pertaining to the use of pesticides. DPR’s enforcement of pesticide use in the field is largely carried out in California’s 58 counties by county agricultural commissioners (CACs) and their staff (approximately 400 inspectors/biologists). For assistance and clarification of pesticide standards, growers can contact their local CAC or a licensed, private pest control advisor.

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About the Author

Len Wilcox

Correspondent at Large for Citrus Industry Magazine and AgNet West