EPA Releases Temporary Guidance Concerning PPE for Agricultural Pesticide Handlers
In light of the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the agricultural industry due to COVID-19, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has released temporary guidelines concerning respiratory protection for agricultural pesticide handlers. These guidelines are designed to help ensure the safety of the pesticide handlers, while addressing the unavailability of PPE and respiratory fit testing.
Per the temporary guidelines, alternative options include the following:
- Utilize NIOSH-approved respirators that provide equivalent or greater respiratory protection than those required on the pesticide label
- Hire commercial applicator services that do have enough PPE
- Opt to use pesticides that do not require respirators
- Delay pesticide applications until a compliant PPE option is available
If the above options are not available, the EPA ‘s temporary guidelines provide terms, conditions and requirements in which the following could be utilized.
- Reuse/extended use of disposable N95 filter facepiece respirators
- Use of “expired” respirators
- Use of respirators certified in certain countries or jurisdictions
- Delay the annual respirator “fit test”
For the above options, please refer to the EPA’s guidance document for complete details.