WPS Applies to You

The WPS applies when agricultural workers perform tasks related to the production of agricultural plants on an agricultural establishment. It also applies if you hire or contract for the services of pesticide handlers, unless their employer is a commercial pesticide handler employer (see text box). You are considered the employer when you hire workers or handlers through a labor contractor.

This FAQ addresses the WPS requirements for agricultural employers when hiring a labor contractor to provide labor. Agricultural employers have the same responsibilities for WPS compliance when they employ workers and/or handlers directly as when they hire workers and/or handlers through a labor contractor.



What if I use a labor contractor, and ask the workers to handle pesticides?

If the applications are supervised by the labor contractor, with their equipment and PPE, then the labor contractor is considered a “Commercial Pesticide Handler Employer” or CPHE. The CPHE would be responsible for protecting their handlers, with distinct responsibilities under the WPS. This fact sheet describes that relationship, and the duties for the establishment owner.

If the applications are supervised by the agricultural establishment, with your equipment and PPE, then the labor contractor is not responsible for complying with the WPS. You are responsible as a “handler employer.” See Chapter 4 in the HTC for more information.



WPS Responsibilities

You can assign WPS responsibilities to a labor contractor, but you are still responsible for compliance with WPS. Employers are responsible for making sure that workers and handlers receive the protections required by the pesticide labeling and the WPS. The term “employ” and “agricultural employer” have special meanings in the WPS — you are an employer even if you are self-employed or use only members of your own family to do the work on your agricultural establishment.



WPS Training of Workers and/or Handlers

If annual WPS training is completed by the labor contractor prior to employment with your agricultural establishment, ensure that you do the following:

  • Obtain a copy of the training record for each worker or handler you employ through the labor contractor.
  • Maintain those copies for 2 years.
  • Provide each worker and/or handler with establishment-specific information (see below).

If the labor contractor failed to provide appropriate safety training, you are still ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with the training requirements.



Establishment-Specific Information

In addition to annual training, you must provide information specific to your agricultural establishment to workers and handlers before they begin doing worker/handler tasks in a treated area. Recordkeeping is NOT required for providing this information.

Provide the following information in a manner that will be understood:

  • Where to find pesticide safety information (WPS poster or equivalent)
  • Where to find pesticide application records and safety data sheets relevant to those recent applications
  • Where to find decontamination (wash-up) supplies on the site



What about protections like PPE, emergency assistance, and decontamination supplies?

You may ask the labor contractor (or similar entity) to provide those protections. It may make the most sense because the labor contractor will be on site, while the agricultural employer may not. If you choose to have the labor contractor provide protections required by WPS, you may want to detail those expectations in an official contract. Visit the Quick Reference Guide and Checklist for Agricultural Employers for a list of required protections.

When hiring a commercial pesticide handler employer to supply handlers, that company is considered the Handler Employer. See Chapters 2, 4, and 5 of the HTC here.

You must inform labor contractors of WPS protections and ensure compliance. If you hire workers or handlers through a labor contractor, you must provide sufficient instructions to the supervisors and/or labor contractors to ensure that workers and handlers receive all required WPS protections. The instructions must specify which tasks the labor contractors and/or supervisors are responsible for in order to comply with the WPS.

Even if you assign a supervising employee or labor contractor to carry out the duties required by the WPS, you are ultimately responsible for making sure that all those duties are performed as the agricultural employer.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) includes provisions that hold owners and agricultural employers liable for a WPS penalty if another person employed by or acting for them fails to comply with any WPS requirements. The term “acting for” includes both employment and contractual relationships.