Feb 21, 2020
Pesticide safety program award goes to Washington state

Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA’s) Technical Services and Education Program (TSEP) earned a national innovation award and accolades as “one of the most robust pesticide safety training programs in the nation” at The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas this week.

TPSA is a national consortium of federal, state and local governmental agencies; educational and research institutions; and other groups promoting pesticide stewardship through education, training, and outreach.

WSDA Director Derek Sandison said farm worker training and protection is a top priority for the agency.

“Here in Washington, we put an emphasis on training and education programs that ensure pesticides are used properly. We set the standard for the rest of the country and that’s something we’re very proud of,” Sandison said.

Ofelio Borges, manager of WSDA’s pesticide training program, accepted the group’s Program Innovation Award on behalf of the team.

“We put a lot of effort into making sure farm workers have the training they need to safely handle pesticides,” Borges said. “It’s great to have our hard work recognized.”

Ples Spradley presents Program Innovation Award to WSDA’s Ofelio Borges, Manuel Ornelas and Joe Hoffman.

WSDA’s training program is taught in Spanish and English, with trainers making a concerted effort to reach workers who will be conducting the pesticide applications. Through workshops that include in-class and hands-on training, the goal is to make sure that workers understand the equipment, rules and requirements of safe pesticide applications. Courses are routinely filled to capacity and WSDA regularly partners with farm operations for training done in actual fields and orchards.

In its announcement, the alliance hailed Washington State as a national leader in training and innovation.

The entire agriculture industry has tremendously benefited from the program by learning about pesticides, protection and exposures,” the group said in a statement. “TSEP regularly partners with industry by offering training for the agricultural community. Currently, Washington State has one of the most robust pesticide safety training programs in the nation.”

The Technical Service and Education Program offers the following types of courses:

• Spanish Pre-license Private Applicator Classes
• WPS Train-the-Trainer Spanish and English
• WPS Train-the-Trainer Refresher
• Spanish hands-on Pesticide Handler Training
• Hands-on Respirator Fit Test -Train-the-Trainer
• Spray Application Equipment Best Management Practices Workshop (and videos)

The TSEP also manages WSDA’s Waste Pesticide Identification and Disposal Program in cooperation with local agencies. The program collects unusable agricultural and commercial grade pesticides from residents, farmers, small businesses and public agencies free of charge.

– Chris McGann, Washington State Department of Agriculture

Photo at top: Pesticide training program manager Ofelio
Borges working with a class. 

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