USING REQUIRED PPE DURING PESTICIDE APPLICATIONS AND IN AREAS WHERE PESTICIDES ARE APPLIED.
By: Alex Bellotti, Yuma ESS
When working with pesticides, one of the most important things to do before beginning is to read the label to determine what PPE will be donned during the activities to be carried out.
PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, is defined by OSHA as: “Equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.”
Agricultural PPE consists of that equipment which is intended to keep the wearer from coming into direct contact with agricultural-use pesticides and other ag-use chemicals and thereby becoming exposed. It can be as simple as wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks. Or it can be as extensive as requiring Tyvek suits, goggles or face shields, respirators with specific cartridges, specific gloves and rubber boots.
Every ag-use pesticide label contains statements indicating what PPE should be donned by mixers/loaders, applicators and early entry workers. The person responsible for the application should ensure the adequate PPE is correctly used by either the applicator, mixer/loader or anybody who conducts early entry activities. Early Entry refers to activities conducted by people in an agricultural field or enclosed space production area (greenhouse), which has been treated with a pesticide and is still under Restricted Entry Interval. The label contains a section with the header: Applicators Must Wear… or Mixers and Loaders Must Wear… In addition, The Agricultural Use Requirements box may include a list of PPE to be donned by Early Entry Workers.
Usually mixers/loaders are required to wear a bit more PPE than applicators due to them working with the concentrated pesticides they mix and load. Face shields and aprons are some of the items which a mixer/loader may be required to don while conducting their activities.
It is recommended you carefully read each label for the pesticide or pesticides you will mix, load and apply to determine what PPE you will need for the activities you will conduct. If you are preparing a tank mix with multiple pesticides, you should don the PPE required for the pesticide which requires the most PPE of all in that specific mix.
Wearing more PPE than the label requires is ok. Wearing less PPE than the label requires is not! Sometimes a person applying pesticides and donning the required PPE for extended periods of time will get hot and want to remove some of the protective garments to cool-off and continue the application with less PPE than the label requires. This is not a good idea, it adds to the risk of becoming exposed to the pesticides one is applying. In those instances, a break away from the treatment area may be in order so the person can cool off and continue the application wearing the full PPE required by the label.
A relatively new requirement is medical evaluation and fit testing for respirator use. Before you use a respirator, you are now required to have a medical clearance certifying you are able to use a respirator. And, you are required to have undergone fit testing by a certified individual. When AZDA Inspectors conduct an inspection, or monitor an application; they do request medical clearance and fit test records as part of the inspection. This is in addition to the handler training records which should be complete and readily-available for the inspector to review.
People conducting harvesting, thinning or other activities in a field which has had a pesticide applied and was under a Restricted Entry Interval (REI) during the previous 30 days must wear; at the very minimum long sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. The clothing should not have any rips, holes or be missing any part of it. This is intended to prevent bare skin from coming into contact with plants or soil which may have pesticide residues that could contaminate the person.
During the hot summer months it might be tempting to remove the long sleeved shirt in order to stay a little cooler out in the field. This is really not a good idea for the reasons stated before. The proper thing to do is to take a break in order to cool off. Have a drink of water and rest in the shade for a while before resuming work activities.
Any doubts or concerns should be directed at AZDA Inspectors who are always willing to help answer any questions from the Ag-Community they serve.
You may contact Inspector Alex Bellotti at: firstname.lastname@example.org