Handling Pesticides

1.0 Storage

  1. A prominent warning sign, stating "Danger- Pesticides- Keep Out!"  should be posted over the entrance to the pesticide storage area. "No Smoking" signs should also be posted. Storage doors should be kept locked at all times.
  2. Storage areas should be ventilated with an exhaust fan. Ten air changes per hour are recommended.
  3. Pesticides that present fire or explosion hazards should be stored separately from other pesticides. Storage should be away from heat and possible ignition sources.
  4. Highly toxic pesticides should be stored separately from other pesticides to prevent cross contaminations and mistakes in identity.
  5. Supplies such as absorptive clay or vermiculite, shovel, broom, and dust pan should be readily available to clean up spills.
  6. A ten pound ABC fire extinguisher should be located near the door.
  7. Dusters and sprayers should not be stored with any pesticides left in them. A label should be placed on the equipment listing the name of the last used pesticide.
  8. A partly empty container of pesticides containing chlorates should not be stored for a long period.
  9. Pesticides should be stored in their original containers with their proper labels. Never store pesticides in coke bottles, canning jars, or unmarked containers.
  10. Routine checks should be made for leaks and spills.
  11. Wetable powders packaged in paper bags should not be stored on concrete floors.
  12. Storage should be in a cool, dry, airy room or building which is fireproof.
  13. Do not store pesticide containers (especially glass and aerosols) in front of windows.
  14. Never store food, feed, or fertilizer in the pesticide storage area as it may become contaminated.
  15. The different groups of pesticides (herbicide, insecticide, fungicide, rotenticide, etc.) should be kept separate to prevent cross-contamination.
  16. Metal shelves are advisable because they are much easier to decontaminate than wooden shelves. Leak proof plastic trays placed on the shelves will contain spillage.
  17. Gloves, aprons, respirators should be stored nearby but not inside the pesticide storage area.
  18. A steel cabinet may be used for small quantities of pesticides. Locate the cabinet along an outside wall in an area away from extreme heat and freezing temperatures. Pesticides should be separated by type and stored on shelves in plastic leakproof trays. The cabinet should be locked and identified as a place of pesticide storage.

2.0 Mixing Procedures

  1. All pesticides should be mixed and prepared in the open or in a well ventilated area. When handled in close quarter, highly toxic pesticides may cause poisoning through inhalation. Volatile liquid pesticides may cause fires or explosions.
  2. Always wear unlined rubber gloves when handling concentrates. Proper care of gloves must be maintained to prevent contamination. Rinse the gloves well with water before removing them. Do not turn gloves inside out when removing.
  3. To safely mix and prepare some pesticides, it may be necessary to wear a respirator and protective clothing. The container label must be followed in detail for safety equipment and directions for use.
  4. If it is necessary to use the same equipment for several types of pesticides, the supervisor should see that the following precautions are observed:
    1. When opening a liquid or dust pesticide container, keep your face away from the cap or lid.
    2. Guard against the hazard of mixing incompatible chemicals. The equipment should be cleaned and/or decontaminated after completion of each pesticide application.
    3. Workers need to be warned of the possible toxic hazards to themselves and the environment from mixing incompatible chemicals.
    4. An up to date compatibility chart must be posted or readily available for reference on all pesticide materials currently used.
    5. The sprayer agitator should be in operation while mixing pesticides in the sprayer tank. This will ensure proper distribution of the material and will keep suspended particles in suspension for more effective and safer application.

3.0 Spills

  1. The contaminated area should be roped off and warning signs posted. Only people wearing proper personal protective equipment should be allowed in the contaminated area. In case of obvious spread of hazardous material, local authorities must be warned of the possible danger. If contamination of water supplies exist, State and Federal health authorities must be notified. All toxic residues must be disposed of in accordance with waste disposal recommendations.
  2. Every precaution should be taken to prevent accidental contamination of water sources. The cleaning and maintenance of application equipment should be performed in controlled and marked section of the work site away from wells, lakes, and streams. The cleaning equipment site should not be used for any other work activity and should be posted with warning signs to keep unauthorized people out of the contaminated area.

4.0 Disposal of Empty Containers

  1. Punch holes in containers to prevent reuse or water collection. The containers are not safe for reuse and should be properly disposed.
  2. Do not dispose of pesticides in the dump. Unwanted pesticides should be declared as hazardous waste.
  3. Containers should be triple rinsed before disposal. This will reduce the residual pesticide contamination by greater than 90%. The rinse should be added back to the prepared formulation.
  4. Never burn a pesticide container. Toxic and/or flammable vapors may be produced.
  5. Large containers should be crushed.

5.0 Personal Hygiene

  1. Personal cleanliness is the first step in the prevention of pesticide poisoning. Pesticide handlers should wear clean clothes each day. An extra change of clothes should be available at the work site so the worker can change immediately if necessary. All pesticide contaminated clothing should be cleaned separately from other clothing with a very strong detergent and liquid chlorine bleach before reuse. Clothing that has been badly contaminated with a highly toxic pesticide should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  2. Workers should be provided with facilities to wash thoroughly after exposure to pesticides. Workers should wash their hands thoroughly before eating, drinking, or smoking.

6.0 Personal Protective Equipment

  1. Workers required to handle pesticides should wear the proper personal protective equipment as necessary to ensure that the health of the employee is not compromised.
  2. Workers handling pesticides that can be absorbed through the skin should wear rubber gloves in addition to the appropriate personal protective equipment recommended on the label.
  3. The following personal equipment is recommended:
    1. Boots- rubber, knee-length and unlined
    2. Coverall- lined tyvek
    3. Gloves- rubber, unlined and long enough to wear inside sleeves
    4. Hat- wide brim, waterproofed
    5. Hood- should be used for protection of head,, eyes, face and neck while dusting overhead
    6. Goggles- should be unventilated or indirect vented with anti-fog coating
  4. To ensure adequate eye protection all workers handling pesticides will be furnished with goggles. Goggles must be worn when mixing, spraying, dusting, or when handling any concentrated highly toxic pesticide.
  5. A source of water to irrigate the eyes should be readily available to pesticide operators in the field.

7.0 Respirators

  1. Dust respirators do not offer protection from toxic gases and vapors given off by many pesticides.
  2. Most pesticides are applied as either dusts or sprays. In many instances the pesticide formulation is very volatile. Pesticide applicators are often exposed to a combination of gaseous and particulate hazards. Adequate protection is provided by utilizing an appropriate gas or vapor absorber in conjunction with a high efficiency particulate filter. Chemical cartridges are available with particulate filters assembled as a integral part. Other units offer the chemical and particulate cartridge as separate units. These units are more economical because the dust filter usually clogs before the chemical cartridge.
  3. Pesticide applicators using respirators must be certified by the Safety Office.