Pesticides in agrivulture
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA) is still accepting comments on proposed new state regulations that would apply to the application of pesticides in agricultural settings. It’s not too late to comment! The deadline has been extended again through March 15, 2018.
In 2015 the federal EPA finalized a major update to the Worker Protection Standards (WPS). These rules lay out safety standards that must be followed when pesticides are applied on an ag operation. OR-OSHA adopted most of the EPA rules with one major exception, the Application Exclusion Zones (AEZ).
The AEZ is an area around the application equipment during the pesticide application that moves with the application equipment like a halo. It applies to individuals not property lines. The EPA rules do not allow entry of individuals into the AEZ during pesticide applications. The federal rule requires 25-ft AEZ for backpack or boom sprayers and 100-ft for “air blast” or aerial applications. At the state level, OR-OSHA had proposed allowing for a “shelter in place” alternative to the AEZ for certain applications near housing.
Unfortunately, after facing pushback from advocacy groups, OR-OSHA decided to rewrite its AEZ rule.
Complicating this is the fact that the EPA has issued notice that it plans to reopen rulemaking to revisit the federal AEZ requirements. This could result in Oregon applicators having much more stringent standards than applicators in other states!
OR-OSHA needs to hear from Oregon growers–you can be sure they are hearing from anti-pesticide activists! Send your PERSONALIZED comments to OR-OSHA by March 15!