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Worker Protection Standard Compliance Monitoring Program

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation issued by EPA under the authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to protect agricultural workers from the effects of exposure to pesticides. It covers pesticides that are used in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and enclosed spaces. The WPS offers protections to over two million agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply pesticides) that work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments. The scope of the regulation includes both workers performing hand labor tasks in areas treated with pesticides and those who handle (mix, load, apply, etc.) pesticides in these locations.

When and Where Inspections are Conducted and What They Examine

EPA staff, states and tribes conduct routine WPS agricultural-use inspections at agricultural and commercial handling establishments to ensure users of pesticides subject to the WPS comply with its requirements.  Agricultural establishments are:

  • farms,
  • nurseries,
  • enclosed spaces, and
  • forests.

The inspections involve examining practices of agricultural and handler employers and their employees to assess compliance with:

  • product-specific use requirements and restrictions prescribed on pesticide product labeling, such as:
    • personal protective equipment (PPE),
    • restricted entry intervals (REIs), and
    • oral and posted notification requirements; and
  • generic WPS requirements, such as:
    • worker/handler pesticides safety training,
    • pesticide safety information,
    • decontamination supplies, and
    • emergency assistance.

The goals in conducting WPS agricultural inspections include:

  • Monitoring employer compliance
  • Addressing noncompliance
  • Documenting violations
  • Preventing pesticide misuses and accidental exposure
  • Increasing handler and worker safety

WPS inspections are performed during the significant periods of the agricultural production season, such as:

  • During and after pesticide application
  • During REIs
  • Within 30 days after an REI has expired

The WPS Inspection Manual provides useful information to inspectors on how to conduct thorough and nationally consistent agricultural inspections under EPA’s WPS that are also in conformance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

EPA’s Breaking Barriers: A Pesticide Inspector's Manual for Interviewing Spanish Speaking Agricultural Workers on the Worker Protection Standard, is an interviewing guide designed to assist the pesticide inspector in reaching out to Spanish speaking workers with limited English speaking skills. This guidance is divided into four sections. The first section discusses some aspects of Hispanic culture which can affect the communication and interview process, the second section gives specific guidance on how to approach and interview workers including how to work with interpreters, the third section contains Spanish language including specific WPS interview questions spelled out phonetically in Spanish. The final section includes a written interview questionnaire in Spanish and English. (Note: The 2015 revisions of the WPS changed the requirements for displaying pesticide safety information effective January 2, 2018 (referred to in this document as “the safety poster”). Refer to 40 CFR section 170.311(a)(3) for the revised requirements.)

States and tribes are required to annually report to EPA specific information on WPS agriculture use inspections and enforcement actions. EPA provides guidelines on reporting WPS compliance monitoring and enforcement activities conducted under its  FIFRA Cooperative Agreement program

The WPS Pesticide Dashboard provides interactive charts that present a summary of key activities related to the WPS program and answers questions like: how many facilities in the United States employ workers covered by the Worker Protection Standard; how many have been inspected, and how many have violations and enforcement taken by states, tribes or EPA.

WPS inspection and enforcement data from 2005 to 2013

Overview of WPS Violations from 2005 to 2013