What you need to do

The decision to use pesticides should not be taken lightly, and should form part of a thorough risk assessment. You may need expert help or find it helpful to supplement any initial training you have undertaken by becoming a member of a continuing professional development programme. If you decide that a pesticide has to be used you should ensure it is applied as part of an integrated approach.

The definition of pesticides includes plant protection products and biocides.

The placing on the market, storage, use and disposal of all pesticides are strictly controlled. The key issues are:

What you need to know

Pesticides may be hazardous substances under the COSHH Regulations

Plant protection products (PPPS) form a wide group of products including fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and growth regulators. If you use PPPs as part of your job you should read Government and industry guidance which tells you safe ways to store, transport, handle, use and dispose of them

Biocides also include a wide range of products including rodenticides, disinfectants, wood and other preservatives, biocidal paints, surface cleaners, pest control products, etc. For further information on the safe ways to store and use biocides visit the biocide webpages.

For information and links to guidance on the use of rodenticides see Rodenticides and biocides legislation.

Only buy pesticides that have been authorised for storage and use in the UK. Look for the MAFF, MAPP or HSE approval number on the label on the container. You can find lists of authorised products on HSEs Website.

Storing and transporting pesticides

Store all pesticides in their original containers with the approved product labels. Never decant pesticides into drinks bottles or other similar containers.

HSE's Agricultural Information Sheet AIS16 Guidance for storing pesticides for farmers and other professional users [56KB] sets out the standards for both fixed and mobile stores. All stores must be constructed in a way as to prevent unwanted releases. They should also be constructed of non-combustible material; and secured against unauthorised access.

Anyone selling pesticides must ensure that there are sufficient number of suitably qualified staff available at the time of sale to advise purchasers on the safe use of these products. Suitably qualified staff are those who hold a specified certificate in sale and supply. Details of officially-designated specified certificates are available on HSEs website.

Never carry pesticides in the cab of a tractor, self-propelled equipment or other vehicle. Use a vehicle with a bulkhead between the cab and the load compartment and store chemicals in a secure, leak-proof chemical container or use a secure cabinet mounted on the outside of the vehicle or on a trailer.

Make sure you lock the vehicle or cabinet whenever you are not in sight of it.

Using pesticides safely

Always use pesticides as part of an integrated approach to pest, weed and disease management. Failure to use pesticides correctly can put people and the environment at risk.

  • Always read and make sure you understand the instructions on the label and in any safety data sheet (SDS) or leaflet supplied with the product. Failure to follow these instructions may be an offence and may lead to prosecution.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to protect human health and the environment when storing, using and disposing of pesticides or if you cause or permit the use of pesticides. Government and industry guidance and advice can help you do this. It is not compulsory to follow this advice and guidance, but doing so help to demonstrate that you have been duly diligent in meeting your legal obligations.
  • Anyone who applies a professional pesticide product must hold an officially-designated specified certificate. Details of officially-designated certificates are available on HSEs website.
  • Anyone who purchases a pesticide product must ensure that the end user holds a specified certificate.
  • Pesticide application equipment, other than knapsacks and hand-helds, must have passed a test conducted by the National Sprayer Testing Scheme. Machinery must be calibrated and re-tested on a regular basis. The frequency of retesting depends on the type of machinery.
  • Make sure you use any personal protective equipment identified in the instructions.
  • Only spray when weather conditions are suitable to minimise the risk spray drift. The law requires that pesticide applications are confined to the target area.
  • Try to avoid walking through treated areas.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when applying pesticides.
  • Wash off splashes from the skin and clothing immediately, and wash before eating, drinking, smoking or taking a rest break.
  • Do not use faulty application equipment.
  • Do not overfill sprayer tanks and secure all caps and lids before use.
  • You must keep a record of all pesticide use.
  • Report all suspected cases of environmental damage, poisoning or other adverse reactions, so they can be thoroughly investigated.

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