The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a Federal regulation designed to protect people involved in the production of agricultural plants (on farms, in greenhouses, in nurseries, in forests) from occupational exposure and to protect others from accidental exposure to pesticides.
The WPS requires employers of agricultural workers (conducting hand labor in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people mixing, loading, or applying pesticides or doing other tasks involving direct contact with pesticides) to take a number of prescribed steps to minimize levels of occupational exposure to pesticides. One of the employer's responsibilities is to provide pesticide safety training.
Since the WPS is a federal regulation, training requirements for this program may not be the same as state requirements for similar work. It's possible that a business will have employees needing only state training, only federal training, or perhaps both. For instance, if an employee is hired to apply RUPs and is state certified/licensed, his/her state-issued pesticide applicator license satisfies WPS handler training requirements. If a person is hired to mix, load, or service application equipment, he/she does not need to be licensed by the state, but must complete both state-approved mixer/loader training and WPS handler training. Field scouts must be trained as WPS handlers. Rougers, detasselers, nursery transplanters, greenhouse employees, fruit pickers (including grape pickers), sod workers, and others who perform hand labor in sites where plants are commercially grown and treated with pesticides must be trained as WPS workers. Training for WPS workers and handlers may be conducted by state-certified applicators, trainers who have completed an approved WPS Train-the-Trainer program, or by an educator designated by the state to train certified applicators.
The WPS also requires pesticide applicators (who make applications to sites where agricultural plants are produced) to keep and provide records and notify others, who may enter treated sites, of product label information including any Restricted Entry Intervals (REIs).
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) provides a number of free materials to assist persons needing to comply with the WPS. NDA also provides Train-the-Trainer sessions upon request. For copies of WPS related materials, call NDA at 402-471-2351.