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US EPA promotes agricultural worker protection
Release Date: 10/5/2004
- DENVER -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 wants to provide information to the regulated community, agricultural workers and general public regarding the importance of complying with the Worker Protection Standard as a means to safeguard workers, especially given the continued high rate of noncompliance found in Colorado in 2004. Three U.S. EPA Region 8 experts are available to discuss this issue: David Janik, enforcement attorney, at 303-312-6917; Tim Osag, technical enforcement, at 303-312-6582; and Suzanne Wuerthele, health advisor, at 303-312-6039.
EPA continues to see a high rate of noncompliance with the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which has now been in place for 10 years. EPA inspections during 2004 in Colorado revealed 43 percent of the growers were not complying with the WPS. All growers found to be in violation of the WPS requirements are initially issued a Notice of Warning and are re-inspected to assure that the violations are corrected. EPA is seeking a civil penalty from one West Slope grower who had been issued a Notice of Warning in 2003 but had not corrected all the problems.
EPA Region 8 has issued an administrative penalty order to Talbott Farms Inc, in Palisade, Colorado proposing a $37,200 penalty for failing to comply with the WPS. Other growers found in violation of the WPS in 2004 are being issued Notices of Warning (NOWs) and will be re-inspected. Failure to correct the problems noted in the NOW can result in a civil penalty.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promulgated the Worker Protection Standard to reduce the risk of illness or injury resulting from workers – and pesticide handlers – occupational exposures to pesticides used in the production of agricultural plants on farms or in nurseries, greenhouses and forests. The WPS requires workplace practices designed to reduce or eliminate exposure to pesticides and establishes procedures for responding to exposure-related emergencies. The requirement to comply with the WPS is included in pesticide label directions. The effective dates for the WPS were phased in over a several year period with all provisions becoming effective April 15, 1994.