Last revised in 1992, EPA’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is intended to protect the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers from risks that accompany the use of pesticides. EPA has recently rolled out for public comment a proposed set of changes to the WPS. These changes will require, among other things, the expansion of mandatory posting of no-entry signage around certain pesticide-treated fields, that mandatory trainings be held annually, and that no-entry buffer areas be established around treated fields. The revised WPS will also include, for the first time, a minimum age requirement that restricts children under 16 from handling pesticides.
Some operations, such as wholly-owned family farms, are exempt from most WPS requirements, but for the most part the WPS does regulate owners and employers of operations that grow and harvest food for commercial markets. The exemption for family farms will continue under the proposed changes as drafted.