Introduction to Worker Protection Standard

Katelyn Miller, Field Crops and Forage Specialist
Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Program

February 26, 2024

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation originally issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992. It covers pesticides used in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. The WPS requires employers (agricultural and commercial pesticide handlers) to provide specific information and protections to workers, handlers, and other persons when WPS labeled pesticide products are used in the production of agricultural plants. It's intended to reduce the risk of injury and illness resulting from pesticide exposures on agricultural establishments. 

Based on the WPS How to Comply Manual, the WPS applies to you if:  

Knowing if you fall under WPS is important, but there are also some definitions that are crucial to understanding when it applies. 


Agricultural Plants are plants grown and maintained for commercial or research purposes. Examples include food, feed, fiber plants, seedlings, tress, etcetera.


A worker is anyone who is employed for compensation (including self-employed) and performs tasks like harvesting, pruning, weeding, or watering in the production of agricultural plants. 


A handler is anyone who is employed for compensation (including self-employed). They perform tasks such as mixing, loading, or applying pesticides; assisting in pesticide applications; cleaning, repairing, or adjusting spray equipment, or acting as a flagger. A person is not a handler if they only handle pesticide containers that have never been opened or have been emptied and cleaned according to instructions on the pesticide product labeling.


A crop advisor is any person who assesses pest numbers, damage, pesticide distribution, or the status or requirements of agricultural plants.


Other Persons include nonworkers, family members, customers, government officials, and any bystanders. 


To determine if you fall under the Worker Protection Standard, or need more information on how to comply, check out the WPS How to Comply Manual at https://www.pesticideresources.org/migrated/wps/htc/htcmanual.pdf, or contact your local DEC office.
DEC Region 8 Regional Headquarters in Avon: 585-226-2466
DEC Region 9 Regional Headquarters in Buffalo: 716-851-7200




WPS How to Comply Manual (pdf; 2415KB)


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You're invited to join us for a Cover Crop Breeding Field Walk!

The Cover Crop Breeding Network breeds fall-sown cover crops for traits like fall emergence, winter survival, spring vigor, high biomass, hard seed, and non-shattering pods

Join us to walk the trial fields, talk about what we're seeing (and not seeing), hear about past years' results, and learn about CCB lines approaching commercialization.

Advanced line trials - Crimson clover, hairy vetch, winter pea, and winter canola

Planting date trials - Cereal rye and winter pea

Breeding nurseries - Cereal rye and winter pea (across the road & optional!)

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