Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides

Key Features

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides (WPS), on November 2, 2015. The WPS revisions are intended to decrease the pesticide exposure incidents among farmworkers and their family members. The WPS is designed to protect employees of farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides.

The WPS contains requirements for notifying employees of applications, the use of personal protective equipment, and restrictions on entry to treated areas. Additionally, the WPS also requires certain actions by employers to ensure worker safety. The WPS requires the registrants of pesticides to add label references to the WPS and to list specific application restrictions and other requirements.

Most of the revised WPS requirements became effective on January 2, 2017. Three requirements go into effect on January 2, 2019:

  1. Pesticide safety training must cover the expanded content;
  2. Pesticide safety information (posters) must meet the revised standards;
  3. Handlers must suspend applications if workers or other people are in the application exclusion zone.

WPS provisions are directed toward two types of employees:

Pesticide handlers-Those who mix, load, or apply agricultural pesticides; clean or repair pesticide application equipment; or assist with the application of pesticides.

Agricultural workers-Those who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries, or forests for any type of compensation.

Pesticide Products Covered by the WPS

The WPS covers nearly all pesticide products used to produce plants commercially, including pesticides used on soil and potting media. It also covers restricted-use and general-use products. WPS provisions are intended to:

  1. Minimize worker exposure to pesticides
  2. Mitigate any exposures
  3. Inform employees about the hazards of pesticides

The new revisions of the Worker Protection Standard are very extensive and detailed. An EPA funded "Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative" PERC has all of the information on the new Standard. It is recommended that everyone visit the PERC website to obtain training materials and WPS Handouts, such as the Quick Reference Guide, Checklists for Employers, and Compliance Requirement Schedule.


Luis Urias

Idaho State Department of Agriculture
Division of Agricultural Resources, Boise


Oregon Department of Agriculture:

State of Oregon OSHA website:

Oregon State University:


Washington Department of Agriculture
Pest Management Division
PO Box 42589
Olympia, WA 98504

Information is also available from your local Extension educator.