Greenhouse Chemical Hygiene Planning

When used properly, pesticide residues should not be present in any significant amount on crops for human consumption and greenhouse workers should be protected with protective clothing and safe handling. The EPA’s Worker Protection Standard is an important law for greenhouse operators to know. It requires workers to be provided with information about exposure and personal protective equipment to protect them from pesticide exposure. The FDA and USDA have standards for crops intended for human consumption and growers should take heed of these guidances. More information is available from the FDA pesticide website.

Chemical Storage and Security

Proper chemical storage is important for the safety of workers and to preserve the integrity of chemicals. A designated chemical storage area should be a fireproof cabinet or storage room that is dark, cool, well ventilated, and located away from production space and office space. It should include space to store equipment like sprayers designated to be used only with chemicals, and a place to store records. A mixing area should also be designated.

Tips for Good Chemical Hygiene, Safety, and Storage

  • Pesticides should be stored between 40ºF and 90ºF
  • Ventilation is important for removing heat, chemical vapors, and moisture from the storage space
  • Storage shelves should be easy to wipe off and decontaminate
  • Leak-proof plastic trays should be placed under the containers to contain spills and leaks
  • The mixing area is best located near the storage area, or in an isolated area with a spill kit nearby
  • A drench shower and eyewash station should be near the mixing area
  • Chemical storage should be locked when not in use, and warning signs should also be posted
  • In larger storage areas, a fire alarm and heat-activated sprinklers should be installed; a chemical shower and eyewash station may also be desired

Chemical Spills and Safe Handling

A greenhouse should have a chemical safety program. Safety data sheets (SDS) should be kept on hand and accessible to anyone who might come in contact with chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. Spill kits should be accessible and employees should know what safety precautions to take and what to do if a spill occurs, especially when working with a particular chemical. Employees should have access to gloves, breathing protection, and other protective equipment, and be trained in their correct use. The chemical safety program should also include an emergency response plan and plan for safe chemical disposal.

Pesticide Spill Kit Contents

  • Absorbent Mats
  • Granular Absorbent
  • Hydrated Lime
  • Sodium Hypochlorite
  • Drum Patch Kit 
  • Broom and Shovel
  • Squeegee
  • Buckets/Bags
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