New pesticide safety guide released
Guide includes practical solutions to aid in pesticide handling safety.
A new pesticide safety guidebook is available, providing a collection of practical solutions to protect agricultural pesticide handlers. The booklet, published by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, is unique in that the suggestions come from a wide range of constituents and were all field-tested by an expert working group.
The premise behind the Practical Solutions for Pesticide Safety Guidebook was to share ideas and techniques to minimize pesticide exposure to agricultural workers and their families, says Kit Galvin of the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety Center, known as PNASH. The Northwest center, one of ten agricultural safety centers in the United States, is supported by a five-year grant of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and is housed at the University of Washington.
Galvin said that growers, managers, pesticide handlers, educators, and researchers worked together in developing the solutions to be included in the guidebook. Ideas were evaluated for being practical, easy to implement, and cost effective. “And, most important, the solutions were all field-tested,” she said.
Pictures, illustrations and instructions are included for each solution to help the reader adopt strategies. Resources for additional information are also included for each solution.
Additionally, research or investigative findings are included in the book to help emphasize the importance of a solution. For instance, the simple act of hand washing with soap and water reduces pesticide residues by 96 percent, a research finding that was highlighted to encourage more workers to wash their hands.
Twenty-five farms and 95 handlers and managers participated in the farm visits and interviews, and contributed many of the solutions contained in the guide. Nearly 1,200 people participated in the project.
The advisory group considered the most commonly reported pesticide accidents and then looked for ways to minimize them, Galvin explained.
For example, splashes to the eyes are the most common reason for pesticide-related doctor visits. “We brought that information to the advisory group, and while handlers are supposed to wear safety goggles, accidents are still happening,” she said. The booklet contains directions for building an inexpensive splash shield that could protect workers from splashes while mixing chemicals.
PNASH also tested the most effective way to clean the outside of a chemical sprayer, comparing a pressure washer to scrubbing with a brush. A tracer was used to assess chemical residues left behind. Surprisingly, she said that the scrub brush did the most thorough job of cleaning, although the pressure washer was effective in removing debris in hard-to-reach locations.
The booklet, available in English and Spanish, can be downloaded free from the Internet as a pdf.