Spring Pesticide Safety Reminders

Mary Ann Rose, Director, Pesticide Safety Education Program

You probably worked on your sprayer and other major equipment over the winter to gear up for pesticide applications.  Have you put any effort into preparing for applicator safety?  Here are some questions to ask yourself in preparation for the season:  

  • Do I have the required personal protective equipment on hand?  Review your pesticide labels, and make sure you do.  One of the new dicamba formulations used on dicamba-tolerant soybeans requires a respirator – did you know that?  Be sure you have whatever the label requires.
  • Are you sure you have the right kind of PPE? Let your pesticide label be your guide.   Leather or cotton gloves* do not protect you from pesticides – they absorb chemical and hold it close to your skin!  Read labels carefully to make sure your PPE have required level of chemical resistance.  The gloves in the picture are 14 ml nitrile, appropriate for many, but not all agricultural pesticides. Finally, conventional agricultural pesticides all require long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks at a minimum.  Are you in compliance with the label?  
  • Are you applying pesticides from inside an enclosed cab?  The label may not require you to wear the PPE inside the enclosed cab, but you must have it available in case you have to exit to the field while spraying.   
  • Mixing and loading in the field?  Make sure you have soap, water, and paper towels available to you to wash up before smoking, drinking, eating, or using a restroom.  In case you were to splash concentrated chemical on you, having a spare set of clothing is a good idea too. 
  • Are you using a pesticide that requires eye protection?  Choose eye protection that offers side protection from splashes.  Also, you must have eye wash on hand when mixing and loading if the pesticides you are using require eye protection.  Someday this precaution could save you from serious eye injury!
  • Look at your chemical storeroom.  Are there any leaky containers, or containers that are missing their labels?  Take steps now to fix those problems and remember: NEVER USE A FOOD OR DRINK STORAGE CONTAINER FOR PESTICIDES.  Sadly, fatalities have occurred from this poor decision.   Also make sure your chemical storage is secure enough to keep children and unauthorized people out.  
  • Have you stored your PPE in the pesticide cabinet or storeroom?  If so, remove and store it in another location.  Some pesticides are volatile, and they can contaminate your PPE. 

*One exception: certain fumigants do call for the use of cotton gloves.  Otherwise these are not appropriate to use with pesticides.  

To watch a short video (11 minutes) reviewing Pesticide Safety Basics for the farm, click below:


Contact the Pesticide Safety Education Program with your pesticide safety questions: pested@osu.edu / 614-292-4070. This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team. https://agsafety.osu.edu/.