Insecticide Sprayer in Cannabis Farm

Working in a cannabis cultivation has the risk of pesticide exposure which can lead to serious harm to the employee. The major types of pesticide toxicity are: acute toxicity (occurring from a single incident or exposure) and chronic toxicity (occurring from repeated incidents of exposure for many months or year). Toxic effects by pesticide exposure can range from mild symptoms, like minor skin irritation or other allergic symptoms, to more severe symptoms, like strong headache, dizziness, or nausea. Some pesticides can cause severe symptoms, like convulsions, coma, and possibly even death. The good news for cannabis workers is that most of the most dangerous pesticides to human health are typically not allowed in cannabis facilities, but the dangers are still there. No one deserves to be injured at work and we do not want to bring the pesticide residuals home to our families. So how do we protect ourselves and employees from pesticide exposures? Here are 6 ways to keep everyone safe:

  1. Work Shoes – You must assume every surface in an area that has pesticide applied has pesticide residue and any floor you walk on will leave residue on the sole of your shoes. Shoes that you bring from home should be removed when you get to the facility and replaced with your work shoe. Shoes that are slip-resistant and washable like chef clogs are ideal for cultivations.
  2. Wash Hands – Again we must assume pesticide is everywhere, so every surface or plant you touch will leave residue on your hands or gloves. You must wash your hand before you touch your face, drink, and or smoke. After you touch something in a cultivation area you immediately know I must wash my hands before I touch anything else. When in doubt wash your hands. And if you are using gloves or additional ppe make sure you are removing them correctly. (You can find the CDC guidelines for putting on and removing ppe here)
  3. Read Labels – It is illegal to use any chemical outside the way the label directions say to use it [except in used less quantiles and concentrations, and less frequently] A pesticide label will tell how to mix it, use it with a specific devise, the dangers of the chemical, and apply the chemical correctly. It also describes the specific personal protective equipment (PPE), which leads to number 4
  4. Proper PPE – The label will tell you what specific type and material PPE to use for the best projection from the chemical. This includes type of glove, eye and skin protection, and if respirator is needed. Even if the label doesn’t require it you can voluntarily protect yourself from the chemicals by wearing any PPE that you like. It should be noted if you use respirators (including N-95s) either mandatorily because the label says to or voluntarily your company must have a written respiratory protection program, as defined by OSHA.
  5. Apply Pesticides Off-hours- Many people have sensitivity to pesticides and the obviously pesticide residues are greater after application. It is a good idea to apply pesticides during off-hours as to allow the chemical residue to reduce over time and give your sensitive employees a break for the higher exposure.
  6. Adhere to the Worker Protection Standard – And last but not least your business must adhere to the Worker protection Standard (WPS). This is a federal standard that applies to all agricultural workers and pesticide handlers, which is essentially anyone who works in a cultivation facility. While it is an federal EPA standard it is typically enforce by the state agricultural department in legal cannabis states. The WPS includes pesticide safety training and a central location where certain information must be displayed, and other safety standards. For complete information about the WPS rule requirements, refer to the final WPS rule

Alex Hearding
Chief Risk Management Officer

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