General Certification Standards ATCP 29.30

By Glenn Nice, UW PAT Program

Every once in a while someone might ask, “I take this pesticide applicator training and it is essentially the same every time I do.”  Well that is a fair statement.  Laws do change, so the PAT Program reviews their manuals every 5-years. If there are any changes then we update the manuals to reflect this.  However, every new edition has been reviewed and the pertinent laws have been woven into the text.

One such law that changed substantially in the past couple of years was the Worker Protection Standard (WPS).  Changes in WPS affect people who employ people on farms, in greenhouses, nurseries and production forests.  So in these manuals there have been changes implemented regarding these laws.  However, these changes do not affect those working in turf & landscape, structural pest control, right-of-way and others.

In many cases the manual will also change to reflect concerns that the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) might have.  For example, a large number of violations occur regarding record keeping.  Often components are missing in applicator records or even worse, there are no records at all.  So, in response to this the PAT program moved the record keeping requirements from non-testable material (grey boxes in the manual) to testable material. This in turn means that DATCP will most likely have a test question on that topic.

However, the statement above is accurate in that our overall content does not change much.  There is a reason for this. This in part is due to the fact that there are pesticide applicator certification standards in Wisconsin’s statutes.  These are based on requirements provided by the Environmental Protection Agency through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The Administrative Code that provides guidelines for training is ATCP 29.30 General certification standards.   There are 11 major topics that have to be covered.

  1. Pesticide Labels
  2. Pesticide Hazards: General
  3. Human Health Hazards and Responses
  4. Environment
  5. Pests
  6. Pesticides
  7. Equipment
  8. Pesticide Mixing and Loading
  9. Pesticide Application
  10. Pesticide Handling, Storage, Transportation and Disposal
  11. Pesticide Regulations

We cover those topics above within the manual and online courses (when available).  The six hour training / review sessions don’t have the time to cover everything in the manual.  So reading the manual is still a large part of the training.  Also, DATCP views reading the manual as a very important part of the process, for if you can’t read and understand the manual, pesticide labels don’t get any better. The training sessions are great for those who are recertifying and good for those who would like a little refresher before the test.  If you are brand new to this content and don’t put any skin in the game prior to coming to the training / review does not always mean you will pass the test.

Within each category there are category specific requirements.  For example, Field & Vegetable (category 1.1) requires “Worker safety, notice, posting and restricted entry interval requirements” [ATCP 29.31(1)6]. In Seed Treatment Pest Control (category 4.0) “Factors, such as seed coloration carriers and surface active agents, that may affect pesticide efficacy or see germination.”

The above requirements are then arranged and provided within the manuals. The manuals take a fairly broad and general approach to providing this information.  The mission is to provide general information to help protect yourself, your fellow employees, the environment and the public.

Keep in mind that it is not the mission of the PAT manuals to provide recommendations or specific information on your favorite bed bug product, that is in the world of the label and the specific specialists and all the content that they provide.  Books such as A3646, “Pest Management in Wisconsin Field Crops” or A3422 “Commercial Vegetable Production in Wisconsin”, many fact sheets and manufacturer information are available to provide detailed information.

Some have asked, “Can you provide more detail? I feel like I am not learning anything.”  This is a great request, but it might be a little out of the scope of the manuals.  A lot of what we provide is feels like common sense (until of course somebody does not do it) and general.  Being trained in Weed Science, I would be happy provide detail on herbicide mode of action, herbicide symptomology and weed biology, “. . . photo system II inhibitors interfere with the electron transport chain by binding to the D1 protein.  This promotes the formation of highly reactive molecules that . . .”   However, keep in mind that if that kind of detail is in the manual, it may show up on the test and that six hour training before the test just turned into three days.  Always be careful what you wish for.