FELS.net - Safety Issues

US EPA Announces Tightened Worker Protection Standard

On September 28, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new regulation to significantly tighten the federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS), setting new minimum standards for field worker and pesticide handler safety, hazard communication, and other topics related to pesticide safety in agricultural use.

While the revised standards will mean significant changes in many states, regulations of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation already meet most of the new requirements.  The new EPA regulations  "do not represent a major overhaul" for California but may require some "adjustments," said Charlotte Fadipe, spokeswoman for the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Two particular areas of change in the EPA Worker Protection Standard will differ from California regulations:

  • Imposition of a minimum age of 18 years for workers who enter pesticide-treated areas prior to the expiration of the re-entry interval specified for the material applied and for pesticide handlers; California regulations (California Code of Regulations, Title 3, Section 6612) already impose a minimum age of 18 for handlers;
  • A requirement for annual training for field workers; under both California and federal regulations, field workers are required to be trained every five years. 

Due to the need to permit states enforcement agencies, farm employers, and EPA time to adjust to the new regulations, many of the revisions will not become effective until 14 months after publication in the Federal Register.

FELS will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

 Standards Board Approves Tractor Carrier Rule

At it's August 20 meeting, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board approved a regulation permitting in-field use of tractor-mounted personnel carriers, officially designated Agricultural Personnel Transport Carriers by the Board.Tractor-mounted personnel carriers have been used for more than 25 years in the southern Central Valley and the Central Coast for the purpose of transporting irrigators in a transportation unit usually mounted to the three-point hitch on the same tractor towing a trailer carrying irrigation pipe.  This practice spares workers from walking long distances from pipe storage areas to fields, and in fields following the tractor towing the pipe trailer as the tractor moves through the field to distribute irrigation pipe.

The regulation was the result of years of consideration by the Standards Board.  The final rule places significant limits on the use of tractor-mounted personnel carriers including:

  • In-field use only in low-lying crops; no use on farm roads.  Farm Bureau and others had advocated for farm-road use to facilitate movement irrigators along with irrigation pipe from storage facilities to field; 

  • Tractor carriers may only be occupied by workers in the furrowed area of the field; 

  • The slope of field may not exceed 5%; 

  • Occupants of the tractor carrier must exit the carrier when the tractor turns at the end of a row; 

  • Occupants must exit the carrier when the tractor passes within 10 feet of a ditch, retention pond, unprotected edge of an embankment of levee, culvert or other overturn hazard. 

 You can review the final version of the tractor personnel carriers rule at this link 


2015 Heat Illness Compliance

Resources from FELS

This page features useful resources to assist your compliance with the recently-revised (May 1, 2015) Heat Illness Prevention standard.

Read more: Heat-Illness Regulation

Agricultural Personnel Transport Carriers Hearing Notice

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board) proposes to adopt, amend or repeal the foregoing provisions of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations in the manner described in the Informative Digest, below.

Read more: Ag. Personnel Transport Carriers Hearing Notice

New Resources for Lead Hazard Communication

New lead warning signs and labels are now available to help employers comply with updated Cal/OSHA hazard communication requirements. The 2015 newsletter from the Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (OLPPP) alerts employers to the new requirements and offers the new OLPPP materials for free.

Read more: Resources for New Hazard Communication

Heat Illness Standard Proposal Revised

On November 19, Cal/OSHA and the Cal/OSHA Standards Board released a revised proposal to change the Heat Illness Prevention Standard.  The agency originally released a proposed revision on August 8, and held a public hearing on September 25.  FELS parent organization, California Farm Bureau Federation and a number of other ag organizations testified at that hearing and raised a number of objections and concerns:

Read more: Heat Illness Standard Proposal Revised

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Sets Hearing Date, Comment Period on Heat Illness Proposal

On August 8, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board released a proposed revision to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard, Section 3395 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. At the same time, the agency set a comment period for the proposed regulation -- August 8, 2014 through September 25, 2014 -- and set a public hearing for September 26 in San Diego.

You can view the Standards Boards' notice, along with the Initial Statement of Reasons and the proposed revision at this link.

Read more: Comment Period, Hearing Set for Heat Illness Revision

Cal/OSHA Submits Draft Heat Illness Regulation

On May 28, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Department of Industrial Relations submitted a proposed revision to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard, Section 3395 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.  The agency indicates it has initiated this regulatory process with a goal of having a revised standard in place for the 2015 growing season.

Read more: Cal/OSHA Submits Draft Heat Illness Reg

Kicking-Off the 2014 Heat Season

Cal/OSHA recently reminded agricultural employers of the agency's upcoming Heat Illness Prevention standard enforcement activity.  The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of heat illness statewide and ensure compliance with California's heat illness standard. 

Read more: Kicking Off the 2014 Heat Season

Get a Tractor Personnel Carrier Variance

Tractor-mounted platforms to transport workers, have been widely used in California, particularly in the southern Central Valley and on the Central Coast. But Cal/OSHA has consistently taken the position that use of such transportation devices violates Cal/OSHA safety standards.

Read more: Get a Tractor Personnel Carrier Variance