Speaking to a conference of the crop protection industry, William Jordan, deputy director for programs at the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, said the agency’s proposed revisions to its worker protection standard would result in “fairly modest” cost increases for industry that would be outweighed by the benefits of reducing pesticide exposures.

The worker protection standard proposal, released in February, would increase the frequency of mandatory training from once every five years to annually, prohibit children under the age of 16 years from handling pesticides, establish no-entry buffer areas surrounding pesticide-treated fields to prevent exposure, and expand safety training.

Jordan said the agency estimates that the proposed rule to update the worker protection standard would cost nationally between $62 million and $73 million annually – with the cost to large farms approximately $340-400 per year and small farms $130-150 per year.

EPA is estimating that about 3,000 incidents per year could be eliminated if the proposed revisions to the worker protection standard are adopted and followed, resulting in $5 million to $14 million in benefits from preventing acute pesticide exposures.

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Jordan was questioned about these estimates, as EPA’s preamble to the proposed rule states repeatedly that the agency cannot quantify the benefits of the proposed revisions.

The comment period on the worker protection standard proposal currently is scheduled to close on June 17 but the agency already has been asked to extend the deadline by 90 days.