Safe Handling of Pesticides on the Farm

Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator
A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances used to prevent unwanted living organisms from causing damage to crops, animals, or humans. Common pesticides used on the farm include herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Exposure to pesticides causing poisoning or a health condition is the most common injury. Exposure can be through ingestion (through the mouth), inhalation (breathing) or skin absorption. Following some safety guidelines for pesticides can greatly reduce the risk of an unhealthy exposure causing an injury.

Pesticide Storage:
- Keep pesticides and related materials in a designated locked cabinet, isolated room or separate building.
- Control access to the storage area and post “Pesticide Storage” signs to warn others.
- Never store pesticides near food, seed, feed, fertilizers or other products that can become contaminated.
- Always store pesticides in the original container with an attached label.
- If storing pesticides on shelves, store liquids below dry powders or granuals.
- Check pesticide containers periodically for leaks, breaks, or corrosion.

Pesticide Handling:
- Become familiar with the pesticide being used. Read and follow the information on the label.
- Use all label recommended personal protective equipment for mixing, application, and clean up.  Examples include: chemical gloves, goggles, respirator, chemical apron, long sleeve shirt, long pants, and proper footwear
- Mix or pour concentrated pesticides below waist level, to minimize any splash or fumes near the face.
- Stand up wind so that fumes or dusts are blown away from the body.
- Mix or pour in a well - ventilated area.
- Prepare only the amount needed for application.
- Clean up spills or leaks immediately.
- Follow first aid procedures on the label if an exposure occurs.
- Securely close containers immediately after use.
- Use the proper equipment and follow the label requirements for application.
- Exercise caution when applying in sensitive areas where drift could affect others.
- Follow the pesticide’s re-entry time and procedures after application.
- Triple rinse and dispose of empty containers properly
- Wash personal protective equipment and exposed clothing immediately after use.

Working with pesticides can be done safely when precautions are taken and users read and follow the pesticide’s label.

For more information about OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.