Everyone can use a little green in their lives.
We love our plants, but so do bugs, rodents, fungi and molds. So when you’re working in greenhouses and nurseries, it’s important to help plants survive and thrive before they’re sold, and that means incorporating the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
When liquid pesticides are applied, chemicals are dispersed in minuscule droplets. Proper care and measures must be taken to keep workers safe at all times to prevent inhalation, eye and sinus damage, or chemical burns. When workers use granular pesticides on ground surfaces, they must protect their hands, feet, skin and eyes, and also have proper training, as adding water activates pesticide compounds.
Follow these simple but essential steps to keep nursery, greenhouse and landscaping workers safe when they use any form of pesticide:
- Before handling anything, make sure workers are thoroughly trained regarding handling, application and proper storage of all chemicals. Review the SDS.
- Make sure workers have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), that it all fits properly, and that they wear everything they’re supposed to each and every time.
- After use, wash chemical-exposed clothing separately from regular laundry, and be sure to rinse it multiple times. Ensure that PPE is stored in a protected area so workers will not be subject to any pesticide contamination.
For more on safe pesticide use, check out our free downloadable fact sheet.
Store pesticides properly
When the day is done and it’s time to put away the pesticides and chemicals, they can’t simply be left in open shelving or bins. Smart storage involves locks, identification and trust. Once lids and nozzles are properly tightened and closed, and hoses and other equipment are checked for holes or damage, then those items can be safely locked away, out of sight.
- Create a storage area with room for people to move around so they don’t have to get too close to the chemicals, perhaps a walk-in shed. Install a lock system that prevents children, thieves and wild animals from entering the space.
- Studies show that when workers are properly trained in pesticide usage, as well as overall safety, fewer accidents occur. Decrease the chance of injury by teaching employees how to read labels, handle chemicals, safely clean up any spills and perform proper storage techniques for every item, right down to the little things … such as their gloves.
- Provide your team with functioning, up-to-date safety items such as fire extinguishers, eye washes, a water source and water hoses, materials to quickly stop leaks, and even safety data sheets and product checkout/check-in accountability forms. Create an emergency evacuation plan and share it with all employees so they know how to get out quickly and where they can go.
Follow the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines
The EPA’s website is a great place to consult to make sure you’re complying with federal regulations, no matter what materials your business may handle. In particular, their Worker Protection Standard will ensure you're protecting employees from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides on farms and in forests, nurseries and greenhouses. Learn more here.