EPA changes to Worker Protection Standards

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By Oregonians for Food and Shelter,

Last week, we received news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made revisions to the Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ), which is a component of the Worker Protection Standard. The AEZ applies specifically to an agricultural operation; it is the exclusion zone around a pesticide application that workers and others must be kept out of.

Earlier this year, OFS submitted comments to the EPA and asked for revisions to the AEZ rules to make it easier for growers and applicators to comply. We specifically asked that the AEZ only apply on the farm or agricultural establishment. EPA made this change, giving growers legal clarity! We also supported changes that would allow agricultural employers who meet the “immediate family” exemption to stay in their homes during pesticide applications when their home is within the AEZ. In Oregon, we call this “shelter in place.” This suggestion was also adopted, and it mirrors Oregon’s AEZ rules.

We don’t know yet whether these revisions will change the way that the AEZ is regulated in Oregon, but we plan on initiating conversations with OR-OSHA to determine if Oregon plans to address these revisions.

Speaking of pesticide regulation, we want to remind you that it’s not too late to submit comments to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) regarding their draft chlorpyrifos rules. ODA is accepting public comments through October 22, and they need to hear from growers about the impacts of the proposed limits on the uses of chlorpyrifos in Oregon. Please send your comments by the deadline, and feel free to use OFS’s talking points and action alert center to craft your unique message!