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Global Harmonization System (GHS)

The Global Harmonization System (GHS) is an international approach to hazard communication, providing agreed criteria for classification of chemical hazards, and a standardized approach to label elements and safety data sheets. Negotiations are occurring to merge US safety laws and systems to be compatible with GHS. The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard changed in 2012. This change will eventually involve other US standards including those set for pesticides. One result of this negotiation process is the United Nations' document entitled "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals," commonly referred to as The Purple Book. This document provides harmonized classification criteria for health, physical, and environmental hazards of chemicals. It also includes standardized label elements that are assigned to these hazard classes and categories, and provide the appropriate signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements to convey the hazards to users. A standardized order of information for safety data sheets is also provided. These recommendations can be used by regulatory authorities such as OSHA to establish mandatory requirements for hazard communication, but do not constitute a model regulation.


Federal Laws & Regulations Affecting Pesticide Use in Virginia

A review of federal and (Virginia) state regulations.

Rule Who Must Comply Details / Additional Resources

Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)

Enforced by Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and Virginia Department of Labor & Industry (DOLI)

-full text of HCS-

FARMS AND BUSINESSES: You must comply if your employees are potentially exposed to any chemical in the workplace including pesticides, fertilizers, fuels, lubricants, and other chemicals.

A worker right-to-know law (workers have the right-to-know what chemical hazards that they could potentially be exposed to in the workplace), the HCS requires all employers to identify chemical hazards, train workers, properly label all containers, and make a file available of material safety data sheets (MSDS). If you have 10 or more workers, you must also formulate and make available a Hazard Communication Plan and update that plan periodically. Contact your regional Virginia DOLI office or local extension office for assistance.

OSHA - Hazard Communication Standard
Virginia Department of Labor and Industry
Where to find MSDS on the Internet

Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

Enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Office of Pesticide Services (OPS)

-full text of WPS-

FARMS: You may have to comply if you operate any farm, ranch, greenhouse, or forest operation.

The WPS requires employers to protect field workers and pesticide handlers from exposure to pesticides. Employers must provide worker training, a central notification area, oral and/or written warnings, decontamination facilities, and personal protective equipment. The WPS rules vary somewhat among types of operations, and some employers must adhere to very specific requirements. Details of these provisions are provided in the WPS "How to Comply" manual [warning: full text version is a large PDF file (139 pages, 4042KB)]. Contact your VDACS inspector or local extension office for assistance.

EPA - Worker Protection Standard
EPA - WPS Compliance Assistance (includes summary of WPS)
EPA - List of EPA Publications Available to Assist You with WPS Compliance
VDACS OPS- Worker Protection Standard 

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

Enforced by EPA and VDACS OPS

-full text of FIFRA-

ALL PESTICIDE APPLICATORS: Anyone using a pesticide must comply with these laws.

FIFRA requires pesticide applicators to be trained and certified to purchase or apply restricted use pesticides. The Virginia Pesticide Control Act strengthens this rule by requiring most commercial pesticide applicators to be trained and certified, and pesticide businesses to be licensed. These laws govern all pesticide use and handling and are most obvious to the user as label directions. A violation of pesticide label directions is a violation of state and federal law. Contact your VDACS inspector or local extension office for assistance.

EPA - Food Quality Protection Act
EPA - FIFRA Compliance Assistance Center
VDACS OPS - Registration of Pesticide Products

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Enforced by EPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ)

-full text of RCRA-

ALL PESTICIDE APPLICATORS: You must comply if you dispose of or spill pesticides and other chemicals.

RCRA governs hazardous wastes by requiring that they be formally tracked from their creation to final disposal. In addition to FIFRA label requirements, RCRA requires that applicators dispose of pesticide wastes properly. If you accumulate large amounts of waste pesticides this could be very expensive, including the cost of hiring a hazardous waste handling contractor. For help with interpreting pesticide label directions for disposal, contact your dealer, company representative, VDACS inspector or local extension office. For details on RCRA requirements, contact DEQ.

EPA - RCRA Online
EPA - RCRA Compliance Assistance Center
EPA - RCRA Cleanup
VDACS OPS - Pesticide Disposal & Collection
VDACS OPS - Pesticide Container Recycling
VDEQ - Waste Management

Title III of the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA)

Enforced by EPA and VDEQ

-full text of SARA Title III-

FARMS AND BUSINESSES: You must comply if you store or spill chemicals in various quantities.

SARA Title III (also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act - EPCRA) governs storage and release of hazardous chemicals and provides a community right-to-know protection. SARA affects anyone storing certain pesticides (and other chemicals) in quantities exceeding SARA reportable quantities. In addition, provisions of RCRA affect this law. To find out if you must comply, contact your local emergency response council - organized by your local authorities to meet the provisions of this law. It usually includes members of local government and emergency response officials. For emergencies, report spills to VDACS and local authorities.

EPA - EPCRA Compliance Assistance Center
VDEQ - SARA Title III Program (EPCRA) 
VDEQ - Small Business Assistance Program
Virginia Pesticide Control Act

Federal Pesticide Recordkeeping Requirement

Enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and VDACS-OPS

-facts about the federal pesticide recordkeeping requirements-

FARMS AND COMMERCIAL AG. APPLICATORS: You must comply if you use restricted use pesticides.

The Federal Pesticide Recordkeeping Requirement commonly referred to as the 1990 Farm Bill requires that certified applicators keep records of the application of restricted use pesticides. These records must be kept for two years and must be recorded within 14 days of application. Commercial applicators applying pesticides on farms must provide this information to their customers as part of their monthly billing (every 30 days). Contact your VDACS inspector or local extension office for assistance.

Federal Pesticide Recordkeeping Program (USDA)

Document Actions
Overview of Major Laws Affecting Pesticide Use in Virginia
Youth in Agriculture (OSHA)

The National Safety Council and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have developed a website addressing hazards to youth in agriculture.  The content is very useful for any user but especially informative for employers trying to comply with OSHA rules affecting young workers.

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