Tuesday, September 29, 2015

EPA revised Worker Protection Standard prohibits children from handling pesticides

Children under 18 will be prohibited to handle pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday as part of its revised Worker Protection Standard. Revisions also include mandatory annual training for farm workers on required protections, as opposed to current rules, which only require training every five years, and "expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides," prohibiting "entry into pesticide-treated fields until residues decline to a safe level."

EPA states that "each year between 1,800 and 3,000 potentially preventable pesticide exposure incidents are reported on farms, nurseries and commercial forestland, and many more go unreported," Whitney Forman-Cook reports for Agri-Pulse. EPA chief Gina McCarthy told reporters, “These incidents lead to sick days, lost wages, medical bills and absences from work and school. We estimate that known and acute agricultural worker illnesses cost about $10 billion to $15 billion every year, and the actual costs we know are much higher.”

While McCarthy said that large farms would only have to pay between $300 and $400 and smaller farms half that cost to meet the standards, some farm groups have been critical of the revisions, Forman-Cook writes. A statement from Paul Schlegel, American Farm Bureau Federation director of environment and energy policy, accused EPA of “piling regulatory costs on farmers and ranchers that bear little if any relation to actual safety issues.” The Agricultural Retailers Association said in a statement that "the revised rule ignores industry comments and 'opens new doors of potential liability' without improving worker safety and that EPA 'substantially and deliberately underestimated the cost' of increasing the frequency and depth of farm worker trainings." (Read more)

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