16 July 2023
Pesticides play a fundamental role in modern agriculture, helping to protect crops from pests, diseases and weeds. Australia has an extraordinary good record with on farm safe chemical use with very low rates of workplace incidents involving the use of farm chemicals, however Farm Safety Week is an important reminder to put safety first when it comes to product handling. Adequate training, planning and strict adherence to product label instructions are crucial to protecting farm workers and the environment.
“Best practice with the safe storage, transport, handling and use of pesticides is crucial. There’s never a good time or place to cut corners with safety,” said Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia, the national peak industry organisation for the plant science sector, Mr Matthew Cossey.
“The safety of the users and handlers of pesticides are the reason why Australia has robust regulatory and compliance systems designed to protect worker safety and dictate effective on-farm practices. It’s also why CropLife and our members invest significant resources in our StewardshipFirst® suite of free best-practice and stewardship programs.
“The plant science industry invests billions of dollars in R&D every year which includes developing modern and safe formulations and packaging as well as comprehensive instructions on safe use best-practices for all products. Farmers, agriculture workers and product applicators should follow these top tips to manage risk when handling pesticides:
Follow the label: Australia is also fortunate to have one of the world’s most highly regarded, technically competent, independent regulators in the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The APVMA robustly and independently assesses all scientific information for human health and environmental safety and efficacy of pesticides before approving a product. It also provides strict conditions of use on the labels that are legally binding. The labels on pesticide products contain crucial information regarding proper handling, application, protective equipment requirements, and disposal. It is vital to thoroughly read and understand these instructions before using any pesticide.
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): The appropriate use of PPE, such as impervious aprons, gloves, goggles and chemical proof protective footwear and respirators should always be worn in line with the product instructions.
Store and Dispose of Pesticides Properly: Safely store pesticides in secure, designated areas away from children, animals, and food products. Follow local guidelines for pesticide disposal to prevent contamination of water sources and soil. CropLife’s not-for-profit stewardship program subsidiary, Agsafe, manages important national collection, recycling and disposal initiatives including the drumMUSTER® program which has safely disposed of and recycled nearly 42,000,000 chemical drums since its inception 25years ago. ChemClear® ensures expired, unwanted, or unknown pesticides are safely and properly disposed of. It also provides professional services for ensuring world’s best practice with the safe transport, storage and handling of pesticides.
Best Practice Professional Services: Ensure that anyone involved in pesticide transport, storage, handling and application receive proper training and information. Stay up-to-date with the latest safety practices and techniques to minimise risks. Agsafe also provides best-practice training for anyone who stores, handles, transports or provides advice on agricultural chemicals on how to effectively manage and mitigate any possible risks.
Mr Cossey concluded, “CropLife’s StewardshipFirst® initiative includes best-practice product application guides such as SprayBest and MyAgCHEMuse. These were specifically developed to help farmers, spray contractors and environmental land managers optimise the safe and effective use of crop protection products while protecting themselves, neighbours and the environment.”