Agricultural employers must provide effective training to pesticide handlers who are required to use respirators.  The training in the use of the respirator specified on the pesticide product labeling must take place prior to its use.  The requirement for respirator training applies to all respirators, regardless of the type, level of protection, or whether it is tight-fitting or loose-fitting

What topics must be covered by the respirator training and how should the training be conducted?

Respirator Training

Image courtesy of Elizabeth V. Vassilaros

The training must be comprehensive and conducted in a manner that is understandable to the pesticide handler.  The pesticide handler must demonstrate knowledge of each of the following:

    • Why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator;
    • What the limitations and capabilities of the respirator are;
    • How to select cartridges and canisters and know the schedule for changing;
    • How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations, including situations in which the respirator malfunctions;
    • How to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator;
    • What the procedures are for maintenance and storage of the respirator;
    • How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators.

When should pesticide handlers be retrained?

Retraining must be provided annually and when:

    • The type of respiratory hazard changes;
    • A new type of respirator is used; or
    • Inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use indicate the need to retrain.

In some areas, classes on the selection, use, and maintenance of respirators are available through county extension.  Agricultural employers can contact their county extension office for more information.

What kind of records of the training should be maintained and for how long?

Agricultural employers must maintain written records of their employees’ respirator training for two years.  It is recommended the records include the following information:

    • Name and signature of pesticide handler trained
    • Date of training
    • Name of trainer
    • Training topics