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Personal protective equipment (PPE) in plant protection

Pesticides may only be applied or sold by "experts". The required work clothing is individual for each pesticide and is therefore stated on the label or in the instructions for use. Non-compliance can lead to fines for farmers and a reduction in EU direct payments.

Pesticides are very toxic, highly concentrated mixtures of chemicals that can cause serious damage to health. Special protective equipment is therefore required for many activities (e.g. preparing spray liquid, filling the sprayer and cleaning and disposing of empty crop protection containers).

The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) provides information on approved plant protection products and recommendations for use. According to this, PPE consists of body protection, sleeve apron, protective gloves, head protection, face/eye protection, respiratory protection and foot protection.

Minimum requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) in the various treatment phases

Body protection
This consists of a long-sleeved jacket and long trousers or a long-sleeved overall.
A distinction is made between two types of suitable work clothing
  • Certified workwear according to EN ISO 27065 with three protection levels
Pikto für Schutzkleidung Norm EN 32781 Leistungsstufe C1
Low protection against ready-to-use plant protection products
Pikto für Schutzkleidung Norm EN 32781 Leistungsstufe C2
Medium protection against ready-to-use plant protection products
Pikto für Schutzkleidung Norm EN 32781 Leistungsstufe C3
Strong protection against concentrated and ready-to-use pesticides
  • Non-certified workwear (mixed cotton/polyester fabric with a minimum polyester content of 65 % and a fabric thickness of at least 245 g/m² )

Protective gloves
The greatest danger when handling pesticides is to the hands. Depending on the concentration of the chemical and the activity, protective gloves must have different levels of protection and mechanical properties.
Protection levels according to ISO 18889
Pikto für Schutzkleidung Norm EN 32781 Leistungsstufe GR
  • Partially coated protective gloves for follow-up activities in treated crops with (an)dried residues
Pikto für Schutzkleidung Norm EN 32781 Leistungsstufe G1
  • Protective gloves not tested against mechanical risks with lower impermeability to test chemicals.
  • Not suitable for handling concentrated pesticides
  • Minimum length 240 mm
Pikto für Schutzkleidung Norm EN 32781 Leistungsstufe G2
  • Protective gloves tested against mechanical hazards with high impermeability to test chemicals for handling concentrated plant protection products.
  • Minimum length 290 mm

Face/eye protection
This means tightly fitting safety goggles (basket goggles according to EN 166) or a face shield/visor that protects the whole face from splashes and is tightly fitting at the forehead. If respirators and face shields/visors have to be worn, a combination of goggles and respirator is used. Alternatively, respirator helmets/hoods or full face masks can also provide the required protection.

Respiratory protection
At least a certified (particle) filtering half mask or a half mask with separable filters is required. Alternatively, full-face masks or respirator hoods/helmets with suitable filter equipment are also suitable. The tight fit of the breathing connection is decisive for the protective effect of the respirator.

Basic rules for your protection and for the correct use of PPPs
  • Strict separation of social areas and operating premises: Never store plant protection products or possibly contaminated equipment in recreation rooms!
  •  Hygiene: Wash hands frequently; wash clothes and shower after finishing work. Do not smoke, drink, eat or use the telephone during application.
  • The crop protection product with the highest requirements determines the basic equipment of the farm.
  • To avoid contamination, change protective clothing before entering the tractor cab or, if using a sleeve apron, remove it after mixing/filling.
  • Store contaminated equipment outside the cabin!
  • In suitable tractor cabins (at least category 2* according to the technical notification of the BVL of 8 January 2020), the wearing of protective equipment can be partially omitted.
  • Treated areas or crops may only be re-entered after the plant protection product coating has dried. Conditions and application regulations for subsequent activities (concerning regulations for wearing work clothing, if necessary combined with protective gloves) must be followed for the protection of users.