Is it Pesticide Poisoning or Heat Exhaustion?

Pesticide poisonings are often mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, such as the flu, heat exhaustion, food poisoning, and asthma. When pesticide handlers become ill from working with organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in warm and hot environments, it is sometimes hard to tell whether the person is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning. Anyone who works with or near pesticides should be aware of the symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Pesticide applicators who work with organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in warm and hot conditions need to be especially aware of the difference between heat exhaustion and pesticide poisoning.
It is not always easy to tell if a person is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning.

The EPA has provided the following chart to help you compare symptoms.

Systems of Heat Exhaustion

Dry Membranes
Dry Mouth
No Tears
No Spit Present
Fast Pulse (slow if person has fainted)
Dilated Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Fainting (prompt recovery)

Systems of Heat Exhaustion

Moist Membranes
Spit Present in Mouth
Slow Pulse
Nausea and Diarrhea
Possibly Small Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Coma (can't awaken)

What should you do if you suspect a case of pesticide poisoning?

Time is critical with any pesticide poisoning! Get immediate help from a local hospital; physician; or poison control center (800-222-1222). If you believe you have been poisoned or injured by pesticides on an agricultural establishment covered under the Worker Protection Standards (WPS), your employer must:

  • Make transportation available from the job site to a medical care facility.
  • Provide information about the pesticide to which you may have been exposed.

If you suspect heat exhaustion, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

  • Move the person out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place.
  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
  • Remove tight or heavy clothing.
  • Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine.
  • Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning.
  • Monitor the person carefully.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the person's condition deteriorates, especially if he or she experiences:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater

In either case, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Call 911 if in doubt.

Employers, Protect Your Workers and Your Business! 
Make sure your employees are properly trained, current with their license and WPS compliant. Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicators must complete 6 credits of core training each certification cycle in addition to category specific requirements. See chart for details.

Renewal Deadline
Commercial Applicators - annually by 9/30
Public Certified Applicators - every 3 yrs by 9/30
Registered Technicians - annually by 2/28
Private Applicators - every 3 yrs by 3/31

Worker Protection Safety (WPS) Training
As of January 2, 2017, the EPA Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires employers to provide protection to workers and handlers from potential pesticide exposure. Pesticide safety training is part of the requirement. If you do not train your workers properly you run the risk of employee injury and penalties which could cost you thousands of dollars. Certified Training Institute has partnered with Mississippi State University to bring the highest quality pesticide education to Pennsylvania as well as the entire nation. This training is designed to help you comply with the new regulations. Worker Protection Safety (WPS) training is available online  HERE  Training programs are available to help you train all your workers. Packages are available to train 1-25 workers. There's also an option to train an unlimited amount of workers.

Sign up today and begin your required training and stay in compliance with the new laws. Courses are available at –

Pennsylvania Online Pesticide Professional
Exam Prep, Continuing Education and WPS Training

Pennsylvania State-approved video courses are available 24/7



What is WPS and Why is it Important to Pennsylvania?

What does "WPS" mean?

WPS stands for Worker Protection Standard. Enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, the WPS protects the health and safety of agricultural workers. The goal of WPS is to reduce injury and health risks for people who work with pesticides.

What is the Worker Protection Standard?

WPS requires employers to provide pesticide training that covers the following topics:

  • Pesticide product safety
    • Reading labels
    • Following directions
  • Pesticide application
    • Best health practices during application
    • Restricted Entry Intervals training
    • Posting signage to protect workers from entering areas that have been recently sprayed
  • Use of protective equipment
  • Pesticide handling
  • Decontamination practices

Who needs to comply with the WPS? 

  • Employers at Agricultural or commercial business that handle pesticides, including farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses.
  • Employers at Agricultural or commercial business with agricultural workers who work in places sprayed with pesticides within the last 30 days or have high-contact agricultural tasks like weeding, moving irrigation equipment, pruning, and harvesting.

What must I do to comply with the WPS?

You can complete WPS training for all of your employees using an EPA-approved video course.

Certified Training Institute's program comes in English and Spanish and complies with all EPA requirements. The package also presents, tracks and organizes all worker training and documentation.

Upon completion of the video course, employers must also provide access to specific information including:

  • Applications on the establishment
  • Safety data sheets for pesticides applied
  • Poster displays with pesticide safety and emergency information

The online video course breaks down how to do it all. This program makes WPS compliance easy and straightforward. No more worrying about scheduling training, organizing logistics, or tracking records and paperwork, this system does it all. For more information on how you can train your employees, click here.

What happens if I do not comply with WPS?

Worker Protection Standard enforcement has not been widely advertised, however, the repercussions are steep and costly. Training your staff before a problem occurs is a preventative measure that will help you avoid costly lawsuits, medical bills, fines, and save your business’s reputation. Check out this 2 part article for more information "What happens if I don't comply with WPS?"  A farm in Hawaii found out the hard way and was fined a $26,700 penalty for non-compliance.  Don't let this be you!

Do You Employ Workers and Handlers? 

Visit for online, EPA approved, video Worker Protection Standard training programs in English and Spanish.

Online Worker Protection Safety Training (WPS)
Train your workers in Spanish and English!