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Pesticide Worker Safety

Restrictions to Protect Workers After Pesticide Applications

Employers must take the actions described below to protect workers after pesticide applications on agricultural establishments.

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What is a restricted-entry interval?

The restricted-entry interval (REI) is the time immediately after a pesticide application when entry into the treated area is restricted. Some pesticides have one REI, such as 12 hours, for all crops and uses. Other pesticides have different REIs depending on the crop, method of application, or the post-application activity to be performed. When two or more pesticides are applied at the same time and have different REIs, the longer REI must be followed.

The REI is listed on the pesticide labeling under the heading "Agricultural Use Requirements" in the "Directions for Use" section of the pesticide labeling, or next to the crop or application method to which it applies.

What actions must an employer take regarding REIs?

Employers at agricultural establishments must keep workers out of a pesticide-treated area during the REI with only two exceptions:

  • Early entry with no contact.
  • Early entry with contact for short-term, emergency, or specially excepted tasks, which must comply with additional restrictions.

Entry into treated areas during an REI is allowed to perform handling tasks as long as the persons entering such areas are trained and equipped as pesticide handlers and receive all other applicable WPS handler protections.

What does early entry with no contact mean?

After any inhalation exposure level listed on the product labeling has been reached or any WPS-specified ventilation criteria have been met, an employer at an agricultural establishment may permit workers into a treated area during an REI if they will not touch or be touched by any pesticide residues, including:

  • On plants, including both agricultural plants and weeds.
  • On or in soil or planting medium.
  • In water, such as irrigation water or water standing in drainage ditches or puddles.
  • In air, if pesticide remains suspended after application, such as after fumigation or after a smoke, mist, fog or aerosol application.

Avoiding contact by using p​ersonal protective equipment does not qualify as no-contact early entry.

No-contact early-entry workers do not have to be provided the special protections required for other early-entry workers.

The following are examples of situations where a worker would not be expected to contact pesticide residues in a treated area after sprays, dusts, and vapors have settled out of the air:

  • The worker is wearing footwear and is walking in aisles or on roads, footpaths, or other pathways through the treated area where the plants or other treated surfaces cannot brush against the worker and cannot drop or drip pesticides onto the worker.
  • The worker is in a vehicle in a treated area where the plants cannot brush against the worker and cannot drop or drip pesticides onto the worker.
  • After a pesticide application that is incorporated or injected into the soil, the worker is doing tasks that do not involve touching or disrupting the soil subsurface.
  • The worker is driving through the treated area in an enclosed cab on a truck, tractor, or other vehicle that prevents occupants from contacting pesticide residues or pesticide-treated surfaces.

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