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EPA Moves To Gut Agricultural Worker Protection Standards

By Earth Justice - Common Dreams, December 14, 2017

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will revise crucial protections for more than two million farm workers and pesticide applicators by the federal Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule.

The WPS establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers who mix, load, and apply pesticides; increases the frequency of worker safety training from once every five years to every year; improves the content and quality of worker safety trainings; and provides anti-retaliation protections and the right of a farm worker to request pesticide-application information via a designated representative.

The EPA also announced the reconsideration of the minimum age requirements established by the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule, which sets training and certification requirements for Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs), the most toxic chemicals in the market. There are roughly half a million child farm workers in the United States.

The following statement is from Andrea Delgado, Earthjustice legislative director:

“Nearly two decades ago, EPA recognized that the outdated Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, or WPS, failed to protect farm workers from pesticide exposure and poisoning. After hearing from the children, women, and men that grow and harvest our food, EPA revised the WPS to provide farm workers with basic federal protections that workers in other industrial sectors already enjoy. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule affects pesticide applications in agricultural, commercial and residential settings, which affects us all. 

“The workers who are most exposed to and apply a range of toxic pesticides deserve the strongest protections. Gutting the basic safeguards provided by these two rules will deny farm workers the right to access pesticide information via a farm worker representative and put children at risk of pesticide misuse, injury, illness, and death.  Whether it's in Congress or in the courtroom, we'll defend these crucial protections every step of the way.” 

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.