How Does the Worker Protection Standard Regulation Affect You?

HTML5 Icon

Betsy Buffington
Pesticide Safety Education Program
Iowa State University Extension

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a federal regulation issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enforced, in Iowa, by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

Does the WPS Apply to You?

The WPS applies whenever a pesticide is used in the production of agricultural plants that has an “Agricultural Use Requirements” section on the product label. The rule protects primarily workers (people employed to perform work activities related to the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people employed to mix, load, or apply pesticides for use on agricultural establishments in the production of agricultural plants). Under the WPS regulations, the owner of a farm or managed land that is leased, rented, or owned for agricultural purposes is the owner of an agricultural establishment. No agricultural establishments that use WPS-covered pesticides are completely exempt from the WPS requirements.

Protecting Owners and Immediate Family Members

The WPS exempts owners of agricultural establishments and members of their immediate family from certain requirements. However, owners and their immediate family members are REQUIRED to comply with the following six WPS requirements when using WPS-labeled products:

  1. Ensure that the pesticide applied is only used in a manner consistent with the pesticide product’s labeling.
  2. Wear the personal protective equipment and any other work attire required by the pesticide labeling.
  3. Keep out of the treated area until the restricted-entry interval (REI) required by the pesticide labeling expires.
  4. Ensure the pesticide is applied so it does not contact any other persons, including members of the immediate family.
  5. Ensure that any handler using a pesticide whose labeling requires a respirator, is provided a medical evaluation, fit testing and respirator training before using the respirator.
  6. Ensure that all persons are kept out of the treated area and the application exclusion zone (AEZ) during a pesticide application. The AEZ is a new requirement about keeping people away from outdoor pesticide applications while they are in progress. The size of the AEZ depends on spray quality and the type of application. Contacting people with pesticides through direct application or through drift is always against the law.

Protecting Other Employees

If someone other than the immediate family is hired to work on the establishment and/or apply pesticides, the owner must:

  • Ensure all pesticides are used consistent with the pesticide product label at all times, including following the WPS requirements when applicable.
  • Provide each worker and handler the protections required by the WPS.
  • Verify that each handler, or worker that conducts early-entry tasks, is at least 18 years old.
  • Ensure that employees do not clean, repair, or adjust pesticide application equipment without completing WPS handler training.
  • NOT allow other persons to clean, repair, or adjust pesticide application equipment until they are told that the equipment may be contaminated with pesticides; the potentially harmful effects of pesticide exposure; how they are to handle the equipment to limit exposure to pesticides; and how to wash themselves and/or their clothes to prevent or remove pesticide residues.
  • Provide records or other information required by the WPS for inspection to an employee of EPA or IDALS.

For more information on WPS please contact Betsy Buffington at or 515-294-7293. Additional WPS resources and compliance assistance can be found at

Date of Publication: 
May, 2018