Dec 12, 2018
What greenhouse owners need to know about chemical safety for their employees

{Sponsored} Fungicides, pesticides and other greenhouse chemicals are a constant in your business. Even those employees with years of experience can accidentally use them incorrectly and injure themselves or others. Remember, Worker Protection Standard training is now required annually instead of every five years. Training is critical to a safe workplace.

Above and beyond proper training, the following precautions need to be followed for pesticide safety in the greenhouse:

  1. Pesticides should always be locked up in an area separate from other storage areas or other products.
  2. Pesticides must be properly labeled.
  3. All wooden shelves used for pesticide storage should be protected from accidental spillage. They can be covered with a poly liner, painted with an epoxy paint or you can place the pesticides in a secondary plastic container on the shelf.
  4. Eyewash stations are required to be in the mixing/loading areas if the product requires eye protection. These stations must be capable of providing a gentle stream of water for eye flushing that is able to be sustained for 15 minutes or contain 6 gallons of water in containers suitable for providing a gentle eye-flush for about 15 minutes.
  5. Eyewash stations must be clean and access to them unhindered by storage. They should be tested on a regular basis, and nozzles must have caps on them when they are not in use.
  6. When applying a product that requires protective eyewear there must be 1 pint of water per handler in portable containers that are immediately available for use.
  7. Emergency decontamination stations are required to be located within ¼ mile of all workers. They must include one gallon of water per worker and 3 gallons per handler per shift (an emergency shower will also meet these requirements), at the start of each shift, plus plenty of soap and single-use towels. Supplies may not include hand sanitizers or wet towelettes alone; these types of supplies are considered insufficient. A clean coverall or other change of clothes must also be provided for each handler. Application information/logs must be kept up-to-date. This includes:
    • Product name, EPA registration number, and active ingredient
    • Crop or site treated, location and description of the treated area
    • Date, start and end times of the application, and duration of restricted-entry interval (REI).
  8. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) poster or the information contained on it must be clearly visible in a central location. In addition, the WPS poster must be visible where decontamination supplies are located at permanent sites and where decontamination supplies are provided for 11 or more employees. It must be on display prior to a pesticide application and remain posted for 30 days after the expiration of the REI.
  9. The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and application information must also be on display within 24 hours of a pesticide application and remain posted for 30 days after the expiration of the REI. WPS requires the SDS to be kept on file for two years after the application. It must be provided upon request by a worker, handler or designated representative or medical worker within 15 days.
  10. Personal protection steps must be followed at all times when handling or near pesticides.

Personal Protection includes:

  1. Know what Safety Data Sheet (SDS – formerly referred to as MSDS) labeling means: if a chemical contains any health hazards, is flammable or explosive and so on. Take the proper safety precautions necessary based on what you’re handling.
  2. Protect yourself: Be sure to wear proper clothing to cover all exposed skin, eyes and hands according to the label and SDS.
  3. Clean up correctly: Wash up prior to eating or drinking or otherwise touching your exposed skin; this includes washing your face and hands thoroughly. Use plenty of water and soap to rinse the chemicals from your skin. Wash your clothing separately from items that haven’t had chemical exposure. Clean your protective gear regularly and change your mask filters when recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Be vigilant and take action: If you are exposed to chemicals, take the proper actions. Rinse exposed eyes for 15 minutes and get immediate medical attention after that. Wash skin thoroughly and remove contaminated clothing. Have a decontamination kit and first aid supplies on hand. Know your route to the emergency room or urgent care and who to notify if an exposure occurs at your workplace.

Major changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard went into effect Jan. 2, 2017, requiring pesticide safety training prior to working in an area that was treated with pesticides if the REI was in effect in the previous 30 days and that handlers are trained prior to performing any pesticide application or handling. There is no longer a 5 day grace period on training new workers. Also, the number of required training items doubled. An increase in no-entry signage may now apply. Additional regulatory training pertaining to respirator use is now required. Water for washing and emergency eye flushing are specifically addressed within the regulations.

Knowing proper pesticide safety regulations and implementation of required training and procedures are your best opportunity for keeping your employees safe.


Hortica® property and casualty coverages are underwritten, and loss control services are provided, by Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, Florists’ Insurance Company, and Florists’ Insurance Service, Inc., Edwardsville, IL, members of the Sentry Insurance Group. For more information, visit Policies, coverages, benefits and discounts are not available in all states. See policy for complete coverage details.

This document is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. No one should act on the information contained in this document without advice from a local professional with relevant expertise.

© 2018 Hortica

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