Laurence Gale MSc joins delegates on the BASIS Certificate of Competence course, designed for all those involved with the use, supervision, strorage and transportation of pesticides
As long as I can remember we, as turfcare professionals, have had pesticides available for use on sportsturf. They have helped to efficiently manage insect pests, disease causing organisms and weeds. The result has been the continued improvement of both appearance and playing quality of turfgrass.
To safeguard and protect the people who come into contact with pesticides the government has in place a set of laws and legislations. The law states that anyone who uses a professional pesticide product in the course of their business or employment may not use it, or give instructions on its use, unless they have received adequate instruction, training and guidance. In addition, users of pesticides must hold a relevant Certificate of Competence if they are providing a commercial service e.g contactors or anyone spraying on land that is not his or his employers.
Anyone who does not hold the Certificate of Competence can only use pesticides if they are supervised by someone who does hold the correct documentation.
Obtaining the Certificate of Competence is the best way of demonstrating that you are trained to use specific types of equipment even if, under the legislation, you are not required to have one.
Currently, the recognised Certificates of Competence for the use of pesticides are issued by the National Proficiency Tests Council and the Scottish Skills Testing Service.
Anyone who stores pesticides for the purpose of sale or supply in a quantity in excess of, at any one time, 200kg or 200 litres, or a similar mixed quantity, must obtain the appropriate Certificate of Competence. If they do not hold one then they may only store pesticides under the direct supervision of someone that does.
In addition, anyone who intends to sell, supply or otherwise market a pesticide for someone to use must have a Certificate of Competence, or sell or supply those pesticides under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate.
The recognised Certificate of Competence for those who store, sell, supply or otherwise market a pesticide is issued by BASIS (Registration) Ltd.
What is BASIS?
BASIS is an independent organisation, set up at the suggestion of the UK Government in 1978, to establish and assess standards in the pesticide industry relating to storage, transport and competence of staff. It is an industry self-regulated scheme, in line with Government's de-regulation policy, giving balanced and independent advice to registered distributors. It does not seek to emulate the role of any Government enforcement agency.
BASIS became a registered charity in 1999. Standards and certification are recognised under the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986; the BASIS Storekeeper and Field Sales and Technical Staff certificates are now required, by law, by all those involved in the storage, sale and supply of pesticides.
BASIS achievements to date
• Over 420 companies distributing pesticides have registered their pesticide stores with BASIS
• Over 15,000 people have qualified under the Field Sales and Technical Staff category for crop protection
• Over 3,500 people have registered to be members of the BASIS Professional Register and earn CPD points each year
• Many other people have gained certificates in Seed Treatment, Aquatics, Amenity, Horticulture, Forestry and Nominated Storekeepers
• Some of these qualifications were granted on the basis of the previous experience of staff, all having been scrutinised by BASIS
BASIS offer a wide range of training courses, relevant to the agricultural, amenity, fertiliser and environmental industries.
As from 1 January 1987 it became a requirement under the Control of Pesticides Regulations (1986) that pesticide stores involved in the sale and supply and holding over 200 litres of pesticide must have at least one member of staff with a nominated storekeeper (NSK) Certificate of Competence.
How can I obtain an NSK Certificate of Competence?
You can qualify by attending the two-day BASIS training course and passing the assessment.
In November last year, I attended a BASIS Nominated Storekeeper Certificate of Competence course. This was held in Shrewsbury and attracted fifteen industry professionals from Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales who worked for companies that supply, sell and use pesticides. The majority of those attending the course were actively involved in the storage and transporting of pesticides, plus others who work for large organisations that use pesticides in the course of their work.
In attendance were representatives from the following:
MG Simister & Son Ltd
Ellesmere Port & Neston Borough Council
Wynnstay Group plc
Complete Weed Control
Farming Partners Ltd
Brown Butlin Group Ltd
Frontier Agriculture Ltd
Agrovista UK Ltd
I asked a number of the attendees why they had come on the course. In the main it was to comply with their company or organisational policy, with others wanting to update their certificates and gain much needed CPD points.
Andrew Spencer, a franchisee of Complete Weed Control, was attending because it his company's policy and because he wanted to improve his understanding of the laws regarding the transportation and storage of pesticides. Andrew supplies and services many companies and authorities in the West Wales Region. Most of his work concerns the treatment of weeds along highways, in schools, for local authority and caravan sites.
Andrew Britland, a storekeeper who has worked for Hodges & Moss for eighteen years. His company is a large distributor of chemicals to the agriculture market. Andrew needed to update his certificate to ensure he complied with company policy and UK legislation.
Martin Macbeth, a driver for Shrewsbury based Agrovista who supply amenity and agriculture chemicals to retailers. He spends most of his time delivering chemicals, and it is company policy that all staff are NSK trained.
The course was mainly practical, with little writing required, other than personal note taking and selecting correct statements in a multiple choice questionnaire which all candidates had to complete at the end of the course.
The aim of the course is to enable nominated storekeepers to meet the standards of pesticide storage laid down in the DEFRA Code of Practice for suppliers of pesticides to agriculture, horticulture and forestry by identifying:
• the basic principles of good storekeeping
• the accountabilities of nominated storekeepers
• the relevant points of the Food and Environment Protection Act (1985) and the associated Control of Pesticides Regulations (1986)
• their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) with special reference to safe lifting, First Aid and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations (1999)
Day one included an introduction, legislation, handling, segregation, store exercise, taking care of the store and its contents, managing poisons and, finally, taking care of the storekeeper.
Day two concentrated on accidents, first aid and safe lifting, fire prevention and security, the Health & Safety at Work Act, course review and, finally, the multiple choice questionnaire.
The course was delivered by Greg Dixon, a BASIS Store Registration Scheme Assessor who, with Managing Director Rob Simpson in attendance, provided a range of training aids in the form of handouts, power point presentations and practical question and answer sessions.
A visit to Agrovista's pesticide storage facilities in Shrewsbury gave the candidates the chance to see a large store in operation. As part of the course a number of products were rearranged in the store to help demonstrate the do's and don'ts of pesticide storage practices.
As with most courses the opportunity to meet and talk to other professionals is rewarding along with the opportunity to exchange details and make new acquaintances that help continue your own professional development.
After two days of exhausting information exchange it was time for the delegates to undertake the test; a 100 questions multiple choice paper covering the course. A pass mark of 70% is required to obtain the NSK certificate.
The delegates were given an hour and half to complete the test and were informed later that day of their results. Everyone passed, including myself!
In conclusion, this was a very informative course that provided important and essential information for all personell involved in the storage of pesticides. It demonstrated the extent of the legislation now in force in the UK to control the use of pesticides. More importantly, the course ensures the safety and well-being of everyone who comes into contact with pesticides in the course of their work.
For further information:
Basis Registration Ltd
The National Register of Spray Operators is a central register of sprayer operators using Continuing Professional Development as a means of ensuring ongoing training - http://nroso.nptc.org.uk
PSD (Pesticide Safety Directive) is an Executive Agency for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) -http://www.pesticides.gov.uk
The Voluntary Initiative is a programme of measures, agreed with Government, to minimise the environmental impacts of pesticides - www.voluntaryinitiative.org.uk/
NPTC is the largest nationally recognised awarding body within the landbased sector with a history going back to the Young Farmer's Club Movement in the 1930s when the achievement of skill was encouraged through competitions at club, regional and county level - www.nptc.org.uk