Environmental Health & Safety

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Agricultural Field Technician Safety :
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The purpose of this pamphlet is to provide guidelines in planning activities that extend beyond the home station, to prevent unnecessary crises and emergencies, and to prepare the technician should a crisis or emergency arise.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Minimum clothing required for entry into fields treated with pesticides includes long-sleeved shirt, full-length pants, socks, closed-toe shoes, and gloves. Refer to the chemical label for additional PPE requirements during a restricted entry interval (REI).
  • Applicable PPE for field work during the summer months includes: wide brimmed hats, sunscreen (SPF 15+), light weight clothes, long sleeved shirts and pants, cooling vests and collars, sun screen, and portable water bottles.
  • PPE for first aid includes eye protection, CPR mask, and latex or nitrile gloves.
  • Cold weather PPE includes layered clothing (windbreaker, insulating layer that absorbs sweat and retains body heat when fabric is wet, and an inner layer to ventilate and wick moisture away from the body), a spare change of clothes, hats, gloves, facial protection from wind and sun, and insulated footgear.

Hazardous Materials

  • All containers should be clearly marked and labeled by the manufacturer stating safety and health hazards.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of all chemicals used within the work place should be maintained and kept within easy access for all employees. You should be familiar with the chemical and safety information for each chemical you use.
  • For further information on Hazardous Materials, please refer to the following fact sheets: Chemical Safety: Labels and MSDS; and Chemical Safety: The Right to Know.

Decontamination and Sanitation

  • Decontamination supplies are necessary when early entry activities are being performed or where there is contact with anything from an area where there is an REI in effect.
  • Soap, single-use towels, and an adequate water supply for washing and emergency flushing should be located within 1/4 mile of the nearest vehicle or work activities.
  • Decontamination water requirements are 10 gallons of water available for one individual or 20 gallons for two or more people.
  • During an REI for a pesticide that requires eye protection during application, one pint of emergency eye wash fluid in a bottle per worker is required. Keep the fluid and bottle clean, free of contaminants, and with the worker.
  • Know your location, what is available, and where it is located. These include toilet and sanitation facilities.

  • Evaluate your needs before you go and bring supplies that are not available at the work site.

Heat Stress

  • Be aware of weather conditions, work load, PPE being used, and your physical condition. Use this information to help adjust rest periods and fluid intake level throughout the work period.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink 5-7 ounces every 2 minutes. Don’t rely on thirst as a measure for dehydration. Alcohol and caffeine can contribute to body water loss and increase the chance of dehydration.
  • Notify your supervisor if you are taking a medication that can make you sensitive to heat and sun exposure.
  • Schedule heavier work activities dur-ing the cooler parts of the day and take periodic breaks in the shade or cooler areas.
  • Know the signs, symptoms, and first aid measures of heat stress. For more information, refer to the fact sheet: Heat-Related Illness, Don’t Lose Your Cool.

Cold Stress

  • Factors that can contribute to cold weather health problems include sitting or kneeling on cold, unprotected surfaces, exertion, perspiration, wind chill, and icy conditions.
  • Preventative measures for hypothermia and frost bite include appropriate PPE, work areas that are protected from wind or drafts, heated shelters if exposed to wind chill factors 20°F or less, thermal insulation for equipment handles exposed to temperatures 30°F or less.

Communications

  • Obtain pesticide application details and applicable REI’s for the fields being worked prior to leaving.
  • If possible, carry a cell phone when traveling to offsite locations for general and emergency communications.
  • Have offsite information readily available and written directions to your location to provide emergency responders in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep the local police, fire, medical clinics, poison control center, and tow truck telephone numbers closest to the offsite location in and easy access area within the vehicle.
  • Telephone numbers of the site owners and your supervisor should also be kept with the other numbers.
Off Site Contact List
Emergency: 911
Local Police Dept: _______________________________
Local Fire Dept: _______________________________
State Highway Patrol: _______________________________
Nearest Medical Facility:
_______________________________
Poison Control Center: _______________________________
Towing Service: _______________________________
Contact for Field Work Location: _______________________________
Home Station: _______________________________


Vehicle Check List

Vehicle checks should be done prior to each road trip to ensure that the vehicle is properly maintained.

  • Fuel gauge level, tire pressure, signal and brake lights, and observation of next scheduled maintenance.
  • Emergency vehicle kit and first aid kit present.
  • Standard supplies that should be kept on hand in the vehicle include cables, tow rope/strap, flares, reflectors, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, blanket, a spare change of clothes, emergency food and water.
  • Winter season supplies should include chains, sand bags or cat litter, and a snow shovel.
  • Summer season supplies should include extra drinking water, sunscreen, and hats.
  • Make sure all passengers and vehicle contents are fastened and secure before the vehicle is in operation.

Vehicle Operation

  • Seatbelts are required.
  • Fatigue and stress can impair driving abilities. Make sure you are well rested before driving.
  • Stay focused on driving and the surrounding roadway. Conversations, eating, drinking, reading, writing, make-up application, operating the radio, or using a telephone are all considered hazardous distractions. Hands-free cell phones are still a driving hazard since the conversation itself is the distraction.
  • Speeding, following too closely, changing lanes abruptly, failure to stop at signs or signal lights, or trying to “beat the yellow light” will increase the chances of a vehicle accident.
  • Avoid driving in the blind spots of trucks. These include the left rear quarter, right front-quarter, and directly behind their vehicle.
  • DO NOT react to road rage.
  • Know the procedures and who to contact should your vehicle become disabled.
  • Be aware of factors that can influence road conditions. These include time of day or night, whether it is a road or bridge, surrounding terrain, roadway orientation and composition, above/ below ground temperatures, fog, dust, rain, snow, or ice conditions.
  • Other factors that can influence and impair driving abilities include consumption of alcohol, recreational drugs, and medications.

Getting Assistance

Contact EH&S if you have any questions about seasonal research technician field safety regarding preparedness and planning.

Environmental Health & Safety, PO Box 641172, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1172, 509-335-3041, Contact Us