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Oregon OSHA proposes up to 150-foot exclusion zone for some pesticide applications

Posted By Beth Farmer, Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hearings set for this Wednesday and Thursday in Woodburn

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA) is accepting comments from now through December 15 on proposed new state regulations that would apply to the application of pesticides in agricultural settings.

There are two opportunities to comment on this rulemaking this Wednesday and Thursday in Woodburn, as well as three later hearings elsewhere in the state. Comments can also be sent by letter, FAX or email. All comments are due December 15.

Background and details

The U.S. Worker Protection Standard lays out safety standards that must be followed whenever pesticides are applied. This federal standard recently was revised, with changes set to take effect January 1.

Oregon is the only state that imposes its own Worker Protection Standard on top of the federal requirements. Currently, Oregon OSHA is proposing revised regulations of its own, in the form of application exclusion zones (AEZ's) that are larger than federal rules require. AEZ's must be closed to entry by anyone not wearing personal protective equipment.

The entity applying the pesticide would have to advance notify the occupants of any structure that would be within the zone buffer during application. Zones would be as follows:

  • 150-foot AEZ for products that require respiratory personal protective equipment, when applied by aircraft or with an air blast sprayer, or when the droplet size is smaller than medium.
  • 100-foot AEZ for products that DON'T require respiratory personal protective equipment PPE, when applied by aircraft or with an air blast sprayer, or when the droplet size is smaller than medium.
  • 25-foot AEZ for any product sprayed more than 12 inches above the planting medium using a droplet size of medium or larger. This does not include aerial or air blast applications.
  • No AEZ for products applied less than 12 inches above the planting medium using a droplet size of medium or larger.

In a departure from federal requirements, Oregon's rules would allow the applying entity to provide occupants the option to shelter in place for situations that require up to a 100-foot AEZ, instead of departing the premises. They would have to instruct occupants to close doors and windows and turn off air intakes, and explain how to secure doors and windows and protect personal and household items.

OAN position

The Oregon Association of Nurseries opposes the new rules because although the association is concerned for the safety of workers, these rules would add to the regulatory burden that growers face, without providing added safety. They are based on a misconception that pesticides requiring respiratory protection are somehow more dangerous than other pesticides.

However, the OAN supports the shelter-in-place option, as that will provide greater safety than if people leave and then return to an applied area.

Public hearings

Comments on the proposed rules are being accepted online as well as through public hearings. Two of the hearings will take place this week in Woodburn:

  • Wednesday, November 15, CAPACES Leadership Institute, 356 Young St., Woodburn, Oregon. Hearing begins at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 16, Woodburn Grange, 908 N. Settlemeier Ave., Woodburn, Oregon. Hearing begins at 11 a.m.

Of the five hearings scheduled statewide between now and December 5, these are the only two that will take place in the Willamette Valley. There will be three others in late November and early December, elsewhere in the state:

  • Wednesday, November 29, Pine Grove Grange, 2835 Van Horn Drive, Hood River, Oregon. Hearing begins at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday, December 5, Medford Public Library, Carpenter Conference Room, 205 S. Central Ave., Medford, Oregon. Two hearings. One begins at 11 a.m. Another hearing will be held in the same location, same day, beginning at 6 p.m.

Written comments

Those who prefer to submit their comments by letter or email, rather than by hearing, may direct them as follows:

Department of Consumer and Business Services/Oregon OSHA
350 Winter Street NE
Salem OR 97301-3882
E-mail – garnet.r.cooke@oregon.gov
Fax – 503-947-7461

For more information

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