Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)
Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Science of Health Science
Community and Environmental Health
Cynthia Curl, Ph.D.
Douglas Myers, Ph.D.
Agricultural workers are at high risk for occupational pesticide exposure and pesticide-related illness. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is the primary federal regulation aimed at reducing pesticide exposure among agricultural workers. Agricultural employers are responsible for complying with the nearly 100 WPS requirements, including the provision of pesticide safety training, personal-protective equipment, and decontamination supplies to employees.
Despite the potential health implications of WPS violations, information is limited regarding compliance levels in Idaho. We aim to fill this gap by describing compliance trends according to WPS inspection results archived by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). We analyzed 557 WPS inspections conducted on Idaho farms between 2001-2019 using SAS and STATA statistical software. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were used to describe the frequency and characteristics of violations observed collectively and during each inspection.
According to inspection reports, approximately 46% of inspections (n=266) resulted in at least one WPS violation. An average of 3 of 55 (5.4%) requirements were violated during Tier 1 inspections (SD=7.22), and an average of 7 of 55 (12.7%) requirements were violated during Tier 2 inspections (SD =9.08). Farm employers most frequently violated the sections of the WPS pertaining to pesticide safety training and the central location (an accessible area where pesticide information is to be displayed).
Nearly 50% of WPS inspections resulted in at least one violation, suggesting that WPS noncompliance is common across farms in Idaho. Training and central location requirements may have been most frequently violated due to the logistical challenges of complying with these sections, or because of the relative ease in which they could be accurately monitored. Additional WPS research, education, and outreach is needed, not just for the purpose of improving reported compliance rates, but in fact to better protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure and related illness.
Phinney, Rachel, "Agricultural Workplace Compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's Worker Protection Standard: An Idaho Analysis" (2020). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 1717.