Dec 27, 2017
EPA reconsiders Worker Protection Standard provisions

In mid-December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will reconsider certain provisions of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). This rulemaking has been in the implementation process for several years and was initiated under the Obama administration.

The National Potato Council said the rule’s goal is commendable but there needs to be clarification on certain provisions to keep it from harming farmers.

EPA’s notice indicates that by the end of 2018, they intend to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit input on designated representatives, minimum age requirements and application exclusion zones.

The “designated representative” provision has been a source of concern across agriculture, said the NPC, and the group has been working for nearly two years to find a remedy. This provision provides the opportunity for an individual designated by a current or former employee to come on to farming operations and demand confidential pesticide-related information. However, as currently written there is no standard for defining how an individual becomes designated, verification by the farmer of that designation or the scope of the information request related to the farmworker in question.

Absent these definitions, the NPC said, this open-ended provision could be utilized by individuals and organizations to harass farmers and build nuisance lawsuits rather than legitimately enhancing farmworker safety.


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