Reading the Label

Maggie Scarbrough

What does the label say?

Read it and find out specific instructions as well as precautions. If you don’t understand the labeling, get help and make a plan before you begin and before any one is exposed to the pesticide.


How do I prevent exposure to the pesticide?

Keep any and all personal items away from pesticides including clothes, food, gum, drinks, tobacco or any other consumable items. Any contamination could result in injury.

If you take a break during application, be sure you wash your hands and face thoroughly before consuming food, drink, etc. That means you must wash your gloves while they are still on, then wash hands and face.

Take extra precaution when taking a bathroom break. The genital area absorbs more pesticide than any other skin area. Wash hands thoroughly first.

Be careful also during handling, mixing, cleanup, repair work, transporting, sorting and disposing of pesticides and their containers. All of these instances present the opportunity for exposure to toxic chemicals. Use any necessary equipment to protect yourself during these activities.

What protective equipment should I use?

Follow labels exactly. Pesticide labels will tell you what equipment is required for you and those you supervise. Be sure that you know how to use, clean and maintain the equipment properly. Avoid carelessness in the removal of personal protective equipment. Wiping off sweat or scratching your face could yield serious consequences when wearing the equipment. Also, do not wipe your hands on the outside of your clothes. Your gloves could contain chemicals that could contaminate your clothing.

Is the equipment safe and ready to use?

Establish what equipment you need for a particular job. Then be sure that it is operating correctly, has been cleaned, and that you know how to use it appropriately. Keep children and animals away from it. You are responsible if they are injured.

Am I preventing the spread of pesticides?

Always think about the pesticides you have handled and be aware of your activities AFTER you handle them. Pesticides can be transferred to other people, animals or objects by several different means. If you get in a car while wearing an outfit you handled pesticides in, you can leave behind residue. If you answer a phone call, you could leave residue on the phone. Pesticides can rub off on furniture, clothing, carpeting, etc.

Spills must always be cleaned up. Any spill can open the door to contamination for anyone else that enters the area.

Have I instructed the technicians I supervise?

Take time to be sure all those you supervise are aware of procedures for handling and using pesticides, including reading labels. All those you supervise should know how people are exposed, risks associated with exposure, risks of heat stress and basic first aid.

They also need specific direction concerning all pesticides they will handle. It is your legal responsibility to keep them informed.