Policies and Recommended Handling Procedures for Pesticides and Fertilizers

Revision of 2002 Policy — Updated June 2004

This policy reviewed by the Office of Legal Affairs and the Environmental Safety Division, University of Georgia, 2004.

Information compiled by the CAES Chemical Task Force, comprised of the following members: Robert Shulstad, Chair; David Bridges; David Buntin; Paul Guillebeau; and Paul Sumner.


This manual has two parts. The first section states CAES policies for handling pesticides. The objective of the Pesticide Policy is to keep CAES and CAES employees in compliance with state and federal regulations that affect pesticide activities.

The second part of this manual is a handbook of recommended handling practices for pesticides and fertilizers. Because pesticide/fertilizer-handling activities vary widely at a research institution, specific recommendations may not be appropriate for every pesticide handling activity. Supervisors are expected to adapt recommended practices to protect the environment and employees involved in pesticide and/or fertilizer activities.

This manual is not intended to be an exhaustive manual of all pesticide/fertilizers regulations and practices. Regulations and practices may change rapidly, and it is important for CAES personnel to have access to current information. Therefore, this manual frequently refers to information on the Internet that is updated as pesticide/fertilizer regulations and practices are revised. Any questions not covered in this manual should be first addressed to the supervisor.

PART 1. CAES Policy for Handling Pesticides and Fertilizers

General Policy Statements

  1. All pesticides and fertilizers will be used in accordance with all Federal, state, and local laws/regulations/rules/ unless specific exemptions are explicitly permitted.
  2. Failure to follow pesticide laws, regulations, or rules may result in CAES disciplinary action for the employee and/or the supervisor. The employee and/or supervisor may also be subject to state or federal penalties.
  3. No CAES employee should knowingly advise, instruct or order other employees to violate any federal/state/local/University pesticide law, rule or regulation. Likewise, no employee should violate such laws, rules or regulations even if instructed to do so.
  4. It is the responsibility of supervisors to ensure that all employees, students, and student-employees with pesticide responsibilities read and follow the policies.
  5. Unregistered pesticides are subject to the same regulations and precautions specified for pesticides registered as restricted-use.
  6. Supervisors should ensure that all employees, students, and student-employees with pesticide responsibilities are familiar with appropriate practices that will minimize pesticide risks to human health and the environment.
  7. Before any work activity that may expose them to pesticides, all employees, students, and student-employees must complete two training exercises.
    • Watch the EPA-approved video, ‘Pesticide Handlers and the Worker Protection Standard’ produced by Michigan State University (© June 1994) unless the employee already holds a pesticide applicator’s license issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. This video is available from the office of the pesticide coordinator (706/542-9035) in English and Spanish.
    • Read the CAES policies and pesticide handling recommendations. These training activities will be the responsibility of Human Resources as part of new employee training.
  8. Women of childbearing age shall be informed of potential health risks associated with pesticide application. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should inform their supervisor.
  9. Persons shall be exempted from applying, mixing, loading or handling pesticides upon presentation of medical evidence verifying their health condition (including pregnancy). The University may require that medical authorities of its choice verify their problems.
  10. Damage or injury to property, animals, or persons from application of pesticides must be reported by the licensed applicator as prescribed in the Georgia Pesticide
    Use and Application Act of 1976 and the Georgia Pesticide Control Act of 1976. Incidents (spills, injuries, property damage, etc.) must be reported to the Georgia
    Department of Agriculture, Entomology and Pesticide Division (404/656-4958) and to the Unit Administrator. An incident reporting form must be submitted within
    24 hours of the incident.
  11. All food or feed derived from the experimental use of pesticides will be destroyed or fed only to experimental animals for testing purposes unless permission has been specifically granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Laws, Regulations, and Rules Affecting Pesticide/Fertilizer Activities

Pesticide Labeling.
Except for pesticides being used as part of an active experiment, pesticides must be applied in accordance with the pesticide labeling. ‘Pesticide labeling’ includes: 1) the information sold with the pesticide and 2) information referred to by the pesticide packaging. For example, agricultural pesticides will refer the user to the U.S. EPA Worker Protection Standard. You will find more information about pesticide labeling
at this web site: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/label/.

Registered and unregistered pesticides being used as experimental treatments are not subject to labeling restrictions. However, supervisors are expected to take appropriate precautions to protect human health and the environment. Other pesticides being used to maintain the experimental site must be used according to the pesticide labeling.

U.S. EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS). 
This federal regulation protects agricultural workers from pesticide risks. The WPS applies to row crops, nurseries, greenhouses, and forestry operations. It does not apply to pastures or animal production. Pesticide research is not subject to WPS regulations, but supervisors are expected to take appropriate precautions to safeguard human health. Information about WPS is available at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-incidents/pesticide-safety-tips.

Pesticide Record Keeping.
Federal and state regulations require that applicators keep records of all applications of restricted-use pesticides. Supervisors should also maintain similar records for applications of unregistered materials. The records do not have to be submitted to any agency, but the supervisor should keep the records for at least two years. The specific information to be recorded can be found at this web site: https://extension.uga.edu/content/dam/extension/programs-and-services/integrated-pest-management/documents/handbooks/2021-pmh-comm-chapters/27-32.pdf.

Restricted-use pesticides.
Some pesticides are classified as ‘restricted-use’ because of increased risks to human health and/or the environment. Restricted-use pesticides will be clearly identified on the front panel of the pesticide packaging. Restricted-use pesticides may only be applied under the supervision of a person with a pesticide applicator’s license issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Additionally, unregistered
pesticides may only be applied under the supervision of a licensed applicator. Information about restricted-use pesticides and licensing is available at the Georgia Department of Agriculture.


Handling hazardous materials, shipping pesticides, spill clean-up, pesticide disposal, etc.
The Environmental Safety Division of the University of Georgia is focused on workplace safety, including hazardous materials like pesticides. They will help you comply with regulations regarding hazardous materials including general handling, shipping, spill clean-up, right-to-know, storage, etc. For more information, visit their web site at http://www.esd.uga.edu.


PART 2: Recommended Practices for Handling Pesticide and Fertilizers

Certification and Training

Every employee required to handle pesticides will be provided a card with emergency telephone numbers for pesticide incidents. Call the office of the pesticide coordinator (706/542-9035) to obtain the cards.

Worker Protection Standard

With the exception of ongoing pesticide research (see exceptions below), the U.S. EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires agricultural employers (including UGA) to provide basic protections for their employees. These requirements apply to all employees in agricultural situations, even if they do not handle or apply pesticides. There are four basic requirements.

  1. Employees must receive pesticide safety training. Basic training must be given before the employee begins work. Training must be completed within five days. Employees who will handle pesticides or enter fields before the expiration of the pesticide re-entry interval must be completely trained before they start work. Training videos are available from the Pesticide Coordinator. Employees who have received a pesticide license to purchase/apply restricted use pesticides do not need additional training.
  2. Information concerning pesticides applied in the work area must be posted in a central location.
  3. Employees must be excluded from treated areas or provided proper training and safety equipment if they may be exposed to pesticides.
  4. Employers must supply decontamination sites (soap, water, etc.) for workers. Emergency assistance must be available for any employee injured by pesticides.

Details of WPS are available on the EPA website.

Supervisors are expected to be familiar with WPS and to ensure that their employees receive appropriate training and protection.

WPS Exceptions for Agricultural Research

Researchers using pesticides for research trials in the laboratory, greenhouse, or field are not subject to pesticide label restrictions, including WPS. Conditions for this presumption are specified in Experimental Use Permits regulation 40CFR 172.3(b)-©). WPS requirements MUST be followed for the use of pesticides that are not the subject of research but are used for maintenance purposes in or around the experimental area.

Researchers collecting experimental data from pesticide experiments are considered to be crop consultants under WPS. Therefore, they may legally enter the pesticide-treated area before the re-entry interval expires as specified on the pesticide label. Any employee entering the treated area at this time must be provided the proper protective clothing as specified on the pesticide label for early entry activities.

WPS requires posting of pesticide application information in a central location. In a research setting, this requirement may be satisfied by keeping the required information in a research notebook or other recording media. The required information includes the location of the treated area, the pesticide product name & EPA registration number, the pesticide active ingredient(s), the time/date of the application, and the reentry interval. This information is not required for posting on the research farm unless nonresearch employees may be expected to enter the treated area.

Certification and Licensing

  1. Researchers and extension specialists who are routinely engaged in pesticide research and demonstration are strongly urged to become certified as commercial applicators of restricted-use pesticides.
  2. UGA faculty who make recommendations concerning restricted-use pesticides should be trained and licensed as a commercial pesticide applicator and be certified in the appropriate public applicator categories.
  3. Individuals who clean pesticide equipment within a laboratory shall follow the procedures available from the UGA Environmental Safety Division http://www.esd.uga.edu.

Health Maintenance and Care


(800) 222-1222

The symptoms of pesticide poisoning are quite variable and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness, weakness, confusion, excessive sweating, chills, thirst, chest pains, breathing difficulty, muscle aches, or cramps. If these symptoms occur during or after pesticide activities, pesticide poisoning should be suspected. Some pesticides are toxic in very small amounts. Co-workers should monitor one another closely; it is common for a victim to be confused. Victims may not realize that they have been poisoned.

If pesticide poisoning is suspected, get medical help immediately. Do not leave the victim alone. When taking the patient to the doctor or hospital, take the pesticide label or the entire container along. Take the Material Data Safety Sheet if it is readily available. Do not carry the pesticide container in the passenger space of a car or truck.

Plan for a poisoning emergency. Be sure that all employees involved in pesticide activities can communicate quickly if they need assistance. A portable phone or two-way radio may prevent a tragedy. Ensure that everyone knows emergency phone numbers. Seconds count in an emergency.

Employees should be familiar with the pesticides they use. Anyone using a Tox. I pesticide should be properly trained and VERY responsible. Pesticides in this category can kill or cause irreversible injury in seconds. No one should mix/load Tox. I pesticides alone. Children and pets are even more susceptible because of their smaller body size. Make sure that everyone understands the first aid instructions on the pesticide label. It can be dangerous to induce vomiting after the ingestion of some pesticides.

First Aid for Poisoning

  1. Protect yourself and stop the pesticide exposure as quickly as possible.
  2. If the victim is not breathing, administer artificial respiration at once.
  3. Consult the pesticide labeling if possible. Directions for first aid will be on the front panel.
  4. Otherwise, follow these guidelines:
    • Pesticide on skin: Drench skin as quickly as possible with plenty of water. Any moderately clean water can be used if not contaminated with pesticides. Remove contaminated clothing. Wash with soap if available. Dry victim and treat for shock. If skin is burned, cover with clean, loose bandage or cloth. Do not apply ointments to burned skin.
    • Pesticide in eye: Wash eye quickly but gently with clean water for 15 minutes.
    • Inhaled pesticide: Move victim to fresh air. Warn other nearby people. Loosen clothing that restricts breathing. Administer artificial respiration if necessary.
    • Pesticide in mouth or swallowed : Rinse mouth with plenty of water. Give large amounts of water or milk (up to one quart) to drink. Consult the label before vomiting is induced. Do not give liquids or induce vomiting to anyone who is unconscious or convulsive.

Heat Stress

Heat stress occurs when someone is exposed to more heat than their body can stand. It is not caused by pesticide exposure, but protective equipment required for pesticide application may increase the risk of heat stress. Mild heat stress will make the victim feel ill and weak; severe heat stress (heat stroke) is VERY dangerous. One-third of victims die, and more suffer permanent brain damage.

As summer approaches, acclimate to the heat slowly, drink plenty of liquids, take frequent breaks, and plan strenuous activities for the cooler parts of the day. Be familiar with the symptoms of heat stress. Many of them are similar to symptoms of pesticide poisoning, including sweating, headache, nausea, confusion, and loss of coordination. A Guide to Heat Stress in Agriculture is available on the EPA website.

The symptoms in this table can help differentiate between pesticide poisoning and heat stress:

Heat Stress
Carbamate Poisoning
Dry mouth, no tears,

no spit

Salivation, tears,

spit present

Fast pulse

(if victim has fainted)

Slow pulse
Nausea Nausea and diarrhea
Dilated pupils Pupils may be small
Fainting (prompt recovery) Coma (cannot awaken)


First Aid for Heat Stress

  1. Move the victim to a cooler area immediately.
  2. Cool the victim as quickly as possible by splashing cool water on them or immersing them in cool water. Do not immerse anyone who is unconscious, convulsive, or confused.
  3. Remove all protective equipment or clothing that is keeping the victim too warm.
  4. If the victim is conscious, have them drink as much cool water as possible.
  5. Keep the victim quiet, and transport to medical facility.

Acquisition, Inventory, and Records

Acquisition of Pesticides

  1. Shelf life. Order pesticides in amounts that can be used during the useful life of the material. The shelf life of pesticides depends on the particular compound and the storage conditions. Few manufacturers will guarantee the performance of their pesticides for more than two years after purchase. Information concerning the shelf life of particular pesticides can be obtained from the pesticide manufacturer or local pesticide dealer.
  2. Experimental compounds. Make prior agreement with the supplier to accept any leftover materials.
  3. Transfer of pesticides to another employee.Pesticides should be transferred in the original container with the label intact. Include a copy of the MSDS for the pesticide.
  4. Local purchase and pick up of pesticides. Pesticides should be transported in original containers with the label intact. The employee receiving the pesticide should obtain an original or copy of the bill of sale that specifies the pesticide and the quantity. If the pesticide is transferred to another employee, a proper record should be maintained. Department of Transportation regulations apply to large amounts of pesticides. Most research applications will reach this threshold. The chemical dealer or Environmental Safety Division will be able to provide additional information.


  1. With an indelible marker, write the receiving date on each pesticide container.
  2. Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all pesticides, including unregistered pesticides.
  3. Keep copies of the inventory in the pesticide storage area and in the central file for the unit. The inventory should be readily available in the event of fire or other emergency.
  4. Inventories should be computerized whenever possible to facilitate storage and retrieval.


Federal and Georgia statutes require that records be maintained for hazardous materials, including many pesticides. CAES personnel should keep records of all applications of restricted-use pesticides and unregistered pesticides. Consult the Georgia Department of Agriculture for more information. http://www.agr.state.ga.us/pesticides.aspx

All employers are also required to maintain an inventory of all hazardous materials to which employees may be exposed. Finally, every establishment must report threshold levels of hazardous materials to the local fire department, the local emergency planning committee, and the Georgia right-to-know program. Contact the Environmental Safety Division of the University of Georgia for more information at http://www.esd.uga.edu.

Chemical Storage and Handling Facilities

Preventing environmental contamination is the main objective of a pesticide/fertilizer storage, mixing and loading facility. Equipment and facilities for storage, storage and mixing of pesticides must meet all federal and state requirements. The Georgia Department of Agriculture enforces storage requirements that appear in the pesticide labeling.

  1. Pesticide storage and handling area must be posted with signs both inside and outside, stating “DANGER: PESTICIDES,” “KEEP OUT,” “NO SMOKING AREA,” or other appropriate signs.
  2. Store all pesticide materials with labels intact, and maintain in a proper manner to insure safety of employees, the public, and the environment.
  3. Spills are to be cleaned up immediately and applied according to the pesticide label.
  4. When farm chemicals are mixed, loaded and handled at the same location, a covered secondary containment structure must be used. This provides an impervious surface for collection, recovery and reuse of spilled product or rinsate. The rinsate can be used as makeup water for subsequent sprayer loads and/or applied to a labeled target area.
  5. Field loading of pesticides or fertilizers eliminates the need for secondary containment. Reporting and clean up of spills are required by law. The site for field loading of chemicals should be moved throughout the year to prevent chronic spills from saturating the site.
  6. Collecting and mixing rinsate from spray operation constitutes a hazardous material unless it can be applied according to the pesticide label. University employees must strive to generate a minimum amount of left over mixtures by properly calibrating the applicator and knowing the exact plot area to be covered. In every case the applicator must apply any rinsate to the target or field while at the site to avoid storing materials.
  7. Detailed information on pesticide/fertilizer storage and handling can be found in “Pesticide Storage and Mixing Facilities,” and “Fertilizer Storage and Handling.”

Protecting Water Supplies

Regardless of the source of water at your facility, take specific measures to protect your water supply from inadvertent accidental contamination. You should also be aware of and protect the potential vulnerability of your neighbors’ water supplies.

  1. Do not mix/load chemicals within 100 feet of a water well. This minimum distance may need to be adjusted farther away depending on the terrain and variables involved with each site.
  2. If possible upgrade all water sources to avoid potential spillage contamination.
  3. Protect water sources against back siphoning by use of air gaps, approved back flow double check valves or other approved safety mechanisms.
  4. Elevate or curb wellheads to prevent spills or surface runoff from entering the wells.

Site Security for Fertilizer and Pesticide Storage Areas

  1. Install a security fence, locked storage building or other means of preventing unauthorized public access to your property.
  2. Post a sign at the main entrance to the facility indicating that all persons must check in at the main office immediately upon arrival. This will allow you to know who is on the site and to provide proper assistance.
  3. Lock all gates and doors when your facility is unattended.
  4. Secure all valves on bulk product tanks with locks.
  5. Lock all sump pumps from containment areas.
  6. Park application equipment containing product that is stored overnight on a rinse pad, secured and equipped with locked discharge valves.
  7. Install adequate lighting in all product storage and handling areas.
  8. Seal or eliminate containment drain lines. Septic systems with leach fields should never be used for disposal of any liquid that may contain agrichemical contaminants.
  9. Provide permanent or automatic proximity sensor activated security lights for worker protection and to minimize vandalism at containment and mix/load facilities. These proximity sensors may also be used to trigger some type of alarm if needed.

Spills and Releases into the Environment

Spill supplies. Each unit or individual researcher must maintain supplies (or their equivalents) to contain and clean up pesticide spills. The specific materials required and the quantities will vary with the size of the storage facility and the types of chemicals stored. Contact the UGA Environmental Safety Division for further instruction.

Emergency procedures. 
In the event
of an emergency, follow these procedures. Become familiar with these steps before
an emergency occurs.

  • Assure public and personal safety. Clear all unauthorized personnel from the area.
  • Put on appropriate protective equipment.
  • Stop the source of the spill.
  • Contain the spill with a physical barrier. Protect wells and waterways.
  • Contact your supervisor for instructions.
  • The supervisor should also ensure that the Dean’s office is informed of any pesticide or fertilizer accidents.

Post emergency numbers near all telephones.
Supply all personnel with pesticide responsibilities a pesticide emergency card that lists all pesticide emergency telephone numbers. The emergency cards are available from the office of the pesticide coordinator (706) 542-9035.

  • Be sure that any units responding to an emergency (fire department. emergency medical, etc.) are given all pertinent information.
  • Information concerning all pesticides in a facility should be maintained by the employees responsible for the use and storage of pesticides. The information should be readily available.
  • Local medical units, fire departments, and other emergency offices should be kept updated on the quantities and characteristics of pesticides in storage.
  • Establish a chain of command and individual assignments for each unit in the event of a pesticide emergency. The supervisor should coordinate all contact with the media.

Shipping Hazardous Materials

This section provides information and instructions for all CAES personnel engaged in, or who expect to be engaged in transportation of hazardous materials or substances treated with or containing hazardous material. This includes shipments made by motor vehicle, rail car, aircraft, or boat.

Many pesticides and other materials used in agriculture are classified as hazardous materials. Contact the UGA Environmental Safety Division (http://www.esd.uga.edu) (706) 542-0113 or (706) 542-5801 or Hazardous Materials Treatment Facility (706) 369-5706 before you transport any pesticide, fertilizer, or other hazardous materials.

Non-Emergency Pesticide Information

General Information

  • National Pesticide Telecommunications Network (NPTN), Oregon State University – General information on toxicology, environmental hazards, etc. (M-F, 9:30am-7:30pm EST) (800)-858-7378
  • Pesticide Manufacturer – Look for telephone number on the pesticide label.
  • American Crop Protection Association – General information about the pesticide industry. (M-F, 9:00am-5:00pm EST) (202) 296-1585
  • Chemtrec Referral Center – Refers caller to the company responsible for the pesticide. (M-F, 9:00am-6:00pm EST) (800) 262-8200
  • National Response Center – Refers caller to proper government agency for hazardous materials. (800) 424-8802

Pesticide Disposal

  • Hazardous Waste Division, GA EPD(404) 657-8831 (agricultural) or (404) 362-2537 (household)
  • EPA Hazardous Waste Hotline (Superfund)(800) 424-9346
  • UGA Environmental Safety Division

SARA Title III, Right-to-Know, Hazard Communication

  • UGA Environmental Safety Division

EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline

  • Interprets residue data and gives EPA drinking water regulations(800) 426-4791
  • Local Health Department or Sanitarian
    County ___________
    City _____________

Enforcement of Pesticide Laws

  • Georgia Dept. of Agriculture, Entomology & Pesticides Division(404) 656-4958
  • EPA Region IV Pesticides Branch(404) 347-3222
  • Applicator certification to use restricted-use pesticides(800) 282-5852 or (404) 656-4958

List of Restricted-Use Pesticides


  • Paul Guillebeau, IPM/Pesticide Coordinator 706-542-9035