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The following safety module is intended to be used as a refresher safety awareness session and is in no way to be used as a substitute for job training nor proper equipment use.
Pesticides are vital to the agricultural industry for the production of food and fiber, and are quite effective when used appropriately. However, you must be very careful about how you handle these chemicals, as well as how you transport, store, mix, load, apply and dispose of them. Your employer knows the potential risks of using agricultural chemicals. When these materials need to be used, only authorized and trained people will be allowed to handle them.
Employees are not allowed to enter areas that have been treated with an agricultural chemical until both the California re-entry requirement and the chemical manufacturer's recommendations on the label allow re- entry. If you have questions about safe re-entry requirements, ask your supervisor.
STORE PESTICIDES PROPERLY
Not only is it important, but it is also legally required that pesticides are stored in a safe, secure and well- identified place. (See Figure 1.)
MIX AND LOAD PESTICIDES PROPERLY
Many injuries occur when chemicals are being mixed. The most dangerous pesticide job is pouring and mixing the concentrated chemicals. (See Figure 2.)
APPLY PESTICIDES PROPERLY
Careful attention to simple guidelines during pesticide mixing and application will greatly increase your ability to control the pest and will make your job much safer for you and those around you. (See Figure 3.)
DON'T EAT, DRINK OR SMOKE AROUND PESTICIDES
Do not carry cigarettes in your pockets, nor eat or drink while working with pesticides. (See Figure 4.) Your cigarettes can absorb pesticide film or residue that could make you sick. Also, be careful not to wipe your face with your shirt sleeves. This could put the pesticide directly onto your bare skin.
AVOID PESTICIDE EXPOSURE
There are four ways that pesticides can enter the body: through the skin, the mouth, the nose and the eyes. (See Figure 5.) Pesticides can enter your body in solid, liquid or gaseous form. It's particularly important to remember that highly concentrated and highly toxic chemicals, especially liquids and gases, present the greatest danger. If they are not washed off immediately, the liquid concentrates can penetrate your unbroken skin. (See Figure 6.) The longer a pesticide remains on your skin or in your eyes, or the longer you inhale it, the greater the damage that is likely to occur. Protective clothing, such as coveralls, aprons, boots, gloves, goggles and face shields, and respirators provide protection against exposure to these chemicals.
Absorption through the skin is the most common form of poisoning. Absorption may occur from a splash, spill or drift when mixing, loading, applying, or disposing of pesticides. It may also result from exposure to large amounts of residue while cleaning out clogged nozzles and filter screens. Generally, wettable powders, dusts and granular pesticides are not as easily absorbed thorough the skin and other body tissues as are the liquid forms. Again, consistent use of proper protective clothing will greatly reduce the potential risk of pesticide absorption.
If a pesticide is taken into the mouth in sufficient amounts, it may cause either serious illness, severe injury, or even death. The most frequent cases of accidental oral exposure are those when pesticides have been taken out of their original labeled container and illegally put into an unlabeled bottle or food container. For this reason, always store a pesticide in a properly labeled container. If you get a clogged spray line or nozzle, never use your mouth to clear it. And never eat or smoke until you have left the spray area and have washed off thoroughly with soap and water.
Pesticides that are inhaled in large enough amounts can cause serious damage to nose, throat, and lung tissues. Vapors and extremely fine particles are the most serious contributors to respiratory exposure. Wear your respirator while working with powder and liquid pesticides. If you are unsure if a respirator is needed, ask your supervisor.
The tissues of the eye are particularly sensitive and absorbent, which means getting pesticides in the eyes brings an immediate threat of loss of sight, illness, or even death. In California, eye protection is required at all times. If pesticides get in your eyes, immediately flush your eyes with clean water for at least 15 minutes.
Publication #: CA 94720
This publication is compiled from various reference sources and is designed to provide current and authoritative information on the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publishers are not engaged in rendering medical, legal, accounting or other professional service. AgSafe, the Safety Center, Inc., and FELS believe the information provided to be correct, but assume no liability for consequential or other damages attendant to the use of this material. In no event shall the liability of AgSafe, the Safety Center, Inc., or FELS for any claim, however designated, exceed the purchase price, if any, for this publication. No claim may be maintained against AgSafe, the Safety Center, Inc., or FELS in any tribunal unless written notice of the claim is delivered to the applicable entity within 30 days of its discovery. Information about the Agsafe Project can be obtained by writing to Agsafe, 140 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
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