Over the last couple of years there has been an on-going debate - recently crystalised on the 'Pitchcare.com' website - about the use of pesticides particularly in relation to training and/or certification and the sale of products to untrained users.
In response to this the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) has provided the following advice which seeks to clarify some of these issues.
To use pesticide products, in addition to the requirement on employers to ensure that their employees are properly trained to use pesticides there are two elements to the training and certification obligations placed on individuals.
Users of pesticides must hold a Certificate of Competence to use a product that falls within the definition of an agricultural pesticide if they:
- were born after 31 December 1964; or
- provide a commercial service, for example contactors or anyone spraying on crops/land that is not owned, occupied or rented by them or their employer.
Anyone who does not hold a Certificate of Competence but is legally required to hold one can only use an agricultural pesticide if they are supervised by someone who does hold such a certificate.
However, there is the overriding requirement for anyone who uses any pesticide product in the course of their business or employment (for example a product approved for use in a professional capacity) not to use that pesticide or give instruction to others on use unless they have received adequate instruction, training and guidance in their correct use.
The requirement for anyone to be trained applies irrespective of:
- whether or not they receive payment for using a product in a professional situation; or
- if they were born after 31 December 1964; or
- if they are using a product that does not sit within the definition of an 'agricultural pesticide'.
This is not meant to underrate older or experienced users but points up the importance of all those who use pesticides being trained to do the job competently and safely. Age and experience by themselves do not prove that the person in question has received the appropriate training.
Amateurs must only use amateur (home garden) products. Professional products should never be used by the untrained amateur. However that is not to say that someone with the right training cannot use a professional product in the home, garden or allotment provided the intended use is stipulated on the label and the label instructions are followed.
The sale of pesticides. At present there are no legal requirements requiring the sale of professional products to be restricted to trained users. However PSD is aware that many suppliers, in the interest of best practice, will make their own checks to ensure that persons purchasing product are correctly trained. Sellers are not obliged to supply pesticides to any individual and can if they wish refuse sale if they have any concerns whatsoever about the products' intended use.
Finally, it should be noted that the proposed Sustainable Use Directive includes proposals which could potentially change the current training regime and restrict the sale of professional pesticides to those who have been formally trained.