Operators: Reducing your exposure levels

Ornamentals Advisory Blog

Welcome to the first in a series of new blogs that will help to advise you in the art of improving your spray applications and ensuring every spray counts.

Despite Covid-19 giving us more challenges than we thought we would be facing in 2020, some challenges will remain: our spray operators exposure to crop protection products. For some of our crops, you are able to spray outside, but this is not always necessary and is always done by hand, the need for minimising exposure remains essential, whether you are indoors or outdoors. 

Year-round sprays

The year-round nature of this industry and low tolerance to imperfections can lead to regular applications of crop protection products to ensure high-quality blooms are produced.

What can you do?

For spray operators, the most likely route of pesticide contamination is absorption. This needs to be carefully assessed to ensure that effective control measures, including PPE, are selected and used. As small scale sprayers are used in different situations to apply a variety of pesticide products, the type and degree of PPE also varies. So where to start?

  1. Check the label:
    1. The product label will list the essential PPE required for tasks such as measuring out concentrate, mixing and then applying the dilute solution and these must be followed;
  2. Assess the risks
    1. When deciding what PPE is required, the exposure risks involved should be assessed. The standard of PPE used will adequately control exposure for the duration of the job.
    2. PPE can include gloves, spray coveralls, boots or respirators. The exact specification can be found in the product label or MSDS sheet which can be found on the manufacturer’s website.
  3. What state is your PPE in?
    1. PPE does its job best if it’s clean and without holes, so the next time you go into the chemical store, check your PPE before you put it on.

An extensive process

All pesticides are robustly examined during the registration process and the PPE stated within the label recommendations are sufficient to reduce the risk to acceptable levels. The importance of ensuring correct PPE is high at all times – BUT NEVER MORE SO than when you’re exposed to daily applications.