On January 2, 2017, new Worker Protection Standards (WPS) took effect, modifying the training requirements for agricultural workers and handlers of pesticides. New standards require employers to train workers and pesticide handlers immediately, as the grace period for training has ended. New standards also require employers to train workers and handlers who work in “pesticide treated areas” (i.e., those areas where a Restricted Use Interval from a pesticide application has been in effect in the last 30 days) with Environmental Protection Agency approved training materials and limit who can legally perform such training. Handlers are no longer able to train workers on pesticide safety. Only someone with a private applicator license or commercial applicator license from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) can legally train workers or handlers on WPS. One can become a trainer by attending an MDARD train-the-trainer program, which can be scheduled by contacting MDARD’s pesticide section at 1-800-292-3939. Another important change brought about by the new WPS is that annual training is required rather than every five years.
Not all EPA-approved training materials have yet been released, as the WPS is not expected to be entirely implemented until January 2, 2018. In the meantime, workers and pesticide handlers must use new training material, if available. If new training material is not yet available, then workers and pesticide handlers are permitted to be trained with existing training materials until December 31, 2017. The Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC) EPA approved training materials, videos and WPS handouts are available on the PERC website.