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Pesticide Worker Safety

Exception for Limited Contact Activities and Irrigation Tasks under the Worker Protection Standard

An exception to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) allows, under specified conditions, workers to enter pesticide-treated areas during a restricted-entry interval (REI) to perform irrigation tasks or activities that involve limited contact with pesticide treated surfaces.

This exception allows workers the flexibility during an REI to perform irrigation or limited-contact tasks that could not have been foreseen and that, if delayed, would cause significant economic loss. At the same time, the exception includes provisions to limit pesticide exposure and risk to employees performing these tasks.

The conditions of the exception for irrigation or limited contact, early entry activities are:

  • The workers' contact with treated surfaces is minimal and is limited to the feet, lower legs, hands and forearms.
  • The pesticide product does not have a statement in the labeling requiring double notification (double notification means that workers must be notified both verbally and by posting).
  • Personal protective equipment for early entry is provided to the worker and must either conform with the label requirements or include at least coveralls, chemical resistant gloves, socks, chemical resistant footwear and eyewear (if eyewear is required by the product labeling).
  • No hand labor activity (such as hoeing, picking, or pruning) is performed.
  • The time in treated areas under an REI for any worker may not exceed 8 hours in a 24-hour period.
  • The workers do not enter the area during the first 4 hours, until applicable ventilation criteria have been met and any label-specified inhalation exposure level has been reached.
  • Before workers enter a treated area under an REI, the agricultural employer shall give them oral or written notification of the specifics of the exception to early entry. The notification must be in a language that the workers understand.

To read more, see the May 3, 1995 Federal Register notice.