A pesticide handler has to work with numerous chemicals by mixing and applying them to various surfaces indoors and outdoors. They apply these chemicals various ways through sprays, liquid applications, dust, and pellets. They may work to provide protection to homes, businesses, and outdoor shrubbery or crops.
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How to Become a Pesticide Handler
Pesticide handlers work with a variety of chemicals. These chemicals can be hazardous if breathed in, comes in contact with skin, or swallowed. Therefore, pesticide handlers are specifically trained to safely handle and apply pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides. Safety is of the utmost importance for these handlers to ensure that they stay safe, but the safety of the people and animals in the environment in which they apply the pesticide to are important as well.
A pesticide handler must complete safety training in accordance to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety standards (link opens in a new tab). Handlers must also abide by any state, territorial, or tribal law when applying pesticides. Most states have a Pesticide Safety Education Program that you may need to attend. According to the EPA, Federal law also requires certification if a person uses restricted use pesticides (or RUPs). This certification would train individuals how to apply RUPs properly and effectively. More information about certifications are located on the EPA’s Pesticide Worker Safety page.
Job Description of a Pesticide Handler
A pesticide handler applies chemicals that work as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides to various surfaces indoors and outdoors. They would mix chemicals to get the appropriate strength for a given job and fill the device they will be dispensing the chemical with. This does require physical labor as they often must bend, reach, and lift the dispensing devices to hard-to-reach areas.
Pesticide handlers must also know about various plant diseases so they can treat the issue appropriately. When treating an area, they must be informed of weather conditions that may impact the application’s effectiveness as well. Due to the nature of the chemicals involved, these specialists must also be up-to-date with the EPA’s safety regulation to ensure they are keeping the public and themselves safe.
Pesticide Handler Career Video Transcript
Pesticide workers apply chemicals to handle weeds, insects, and diseases. Work is generally outdoors in all weather conditions, and involves frequent bending, kneeling, lifting. Year round employment may be available. Workers who apply pesticides or fertilizers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and must obtain a license.
National Center for O*NET Development. 37-3012.00. O*NET OnLine.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticide Worker Safety. Safety Training for Pesticide Workers and Handlers and How to Get Certified as a Pesticide Applicator.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.