WPS for Greenhouse Employers: Who is Covered?

The majority of the 2015 revisions to EPA’s Worker Protection Standard (WPS) go into effect on January 2, 2017.  To download the complete guide HOW TO COMPLY WITH THE 2015 REVISED WORKER PROTECTION STANDARD FOR AGRICULTURAL PESTICIDES, visit the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC), http://pesticideresources.org//index.html.  Over the next few weeks, we will break down the revised WPS to help wholesale and retail greenhouse employers of workers and handlers comply with WPS. This post provides an overview of WPS responsibilities, covered establishments and exemptions as provided in the HOW  TO COMPLY manual (pp 12-14; 88-91).

WPS Responsibilities

Do you have responsibilities under WPS? The answer is YES if you are:

  • An agricultural employer: any person who is an owner of, or is responsible for the management or condition of an agricultural establishment, and who employs any worker or handler.
  • A commercial pesticide handler employer: any person, other than an agricultural employer, who employs any handler to perform handler activities on an agricultural establishment.
  • A handler: any person, including a self-employed person, who is employed by an agricultural employer or commercial pesticide handler employer and performs certain activities including but not limited to mixing, loading or applying pesticides.

Covered Establishments

The WPS applies to any establishment involved in growing, maintaining or producing agricultural plants (includes, but is not limited to, grains, fruits and vegetables; wood fiber or timber products; flowering and foliage plants and trees; seedlings and transplants; and turf grass produced for sod) for commercial and/or research or experimental purposes. Commercial production includes production of plants for sale, trade or in-house use on the establishment or another facility. The following facilities or operations may be considered an agricultural establishment for the purposes of the WPS and are covered by the rule if they use WPS-labeled pesticide products:

  • Nurseries, garden centers or other similar operations where nursery and ornamental bedding plants are maintained for sale (retail or wholesale).
  • Dairy farms that produce hay for feed for their cattle.
  • Golf course establishments that also produce sod and/or ornamentals in one area on their facility/establishment for transplanting into the golf course portion of the facility.
  • Public park operations/facilities and/or privately-held ornamental garden operations/facilities that produce ornamental plants in one area on their establishment for transplanting into the permanent park or ornamental planting portion of the facility.
  • Theme park operations (e.g., Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, etc.), hotels, and/or other entertainment operations that produce ornamental plants in one area on their establishment for transplanting into the permanent theme park grounds or ornamental planting portions of the facility.
  • Prisons that have “prison farms” where agricultural plants are produced and the prisoners are employed as workers and handlers.
  • University extension agricultural research facilities that conduct research on agricultural plants.
  • Educational classes or vocational agriculture programs where agricultural plants are produced as part of a class or program, students act as workers and/or handlers, and students receive monetary compensation such as a stipend, or free or reduced tuition.
  • Pine straw harvesting/production operations.
  • Government owned or managed agricultural operations.

The WPS also applies to any establishment operating as a commercial (for-hire) pesticide handling establishment that applies WPS-labeled pesticide products on agricultural establishments or provides crop advising services for an agricultural establishment.

Exemptions for Owners of Agricultural Establishments

Certain WPS requirements are exempt for owners of agricultural establishments and their immediate family members when 50% or more of equity in the establishment is owned by 1+ members of the same immediate family. Immediate family members include: spouse, parents, stepparents, foster parents, father‐in‐law, mother‐in‐law, children, stepchildren, foster children, sons‐in‐law, daughters‐in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, brothers‐in‐law, sisters‐in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins. However,

  • No agricultural establishments that use WPS-labeled pesticide products are completely exempt from the WPS requirements.
  • Employers must provide full WPS protections for workers and handlers that are not immediate family members
  • Owners and their immediate family members must comply with some WPS requirements

A complete listing of these exemptions and exceptions can be found on pp. 88-91.