COVID-19 Information

This page is the hub for PSEP-related information during the training season interrupted by COVID-19. This page continues to be updated as new information becomes available. We are grateful for your patience and understanding at this time.

News

**EPA releases temporary guidance on respiratory protection for agricultural pesticide handlers during COVID-19
June 1, 2020 – The EPA has released guidance for agricultural pesticide handlers and handler employers due to uncertainty about the availability of respiratory protection equipment (and related fit testing services) during the COVID-19 emergency. The full guidance document can be accessed at the link above. A summary is included below.

Agriculture has been deemed critical infrastructure, and pesticides are a vital tool in agricultural production. Pesticide handlers must wear respiratory protection when a label requires it. By far the most common type of respiratory protection required by pesticide labels is the filtering facepiece respirator (FFR). EPA offers guidance on acceptable ways to overcome potential shortages of respirators due to heightened healthcare demand. This guidance is presented as a tiered system; handlers and handler employers must try the solutions from the first list before resorting to options in the other lists.

If the label-required respiratory protection is in short supply or unavailable, try one or more of the following solutions:

  • Use a NIOSH-approved respirator that is equally or more protective than what the label requires.
  • Use an alternative pesticide product that does not require respiratory protection to be worn.
  • Hire a commercial applicator who has the necessary equipment, fit test, and training.
  • When possible, delay pesticide applications until one or more of these compliance solutions are available.

If all the above compliance solutions have been exhausted, several additional options are available. These options are presented in two separate lists. Use the first list if compliant respirators cannot be acquired or are in short supply. Use the second list if compliant fit testing cannot be acquired. All of these options can only be used if certain conditions are met. See the full document for details on these conditions.

If compliant FFRs cannot be acquired or are in short supply, try these options (in order):

  1. Use N95 respirators for longer than normally allowed and/or reuse N95 respirators for more than one pesticide application.
  2. Use N95 respirators that are past their expiration date.
  3. Use FFRs that have been certified in certain other countries. EPA cautions handlers and handler employers to watch out for fraudulent respirators if using this option.

If fit testing cannot be acquired because of COVID-19, try these options:

  • Delay annual fit tests.
  • Delay fit tests for handlers who have previously been fit tested for an FFR that is equivalent to the one they will wear in 2020.

For more information on respirators and the Worker Protection Standard, see the following Extension publications: Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Establishments, Respirators for Handling Pesticides, and Fit Testing a Respirator for Pesticide Applications.



**NDA Order Eases Restrictions on Pesticide Applicator License Holders
April 13, 2020 – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director of the Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture (NDA) issued an Order to aid pesticide applicators whose licenses are up for renewal.

Specifically, this order did the following:

  • License holders (commercial, noncommercial, and private) whose licenses expired on April 15, 2020, could renew their licenses by postponing their required training as late as April 15, 2021. To utilize this option, an applicator needed to contact NDA (402-471-2351) to notify the Department of their intent to renew their license, and then pay the applicable fee, by May 15, 2020. Applicators who took advantage of this option will have their licenses renewed through 2023 on the condition that they receive recertification training before April 15, 2021.
  • The 60-day exemption, a once-in-a-lifetime exemption which allows a noncertified applicator to work under the supervision of a certified applicator, has been expanded to last 120 days. You must apply for this exemption through NDA.

Private Applicators

Online private self-study program — First-time and recertifying private applicators can use this program. Please follow these Instructions for Using the Private Online Training.

If you are unable to use this online training due to its technology requirements (i.e., a computer and an internet connection), please call the Pesticide Office at 402-472-1632.


Commercial/Noncommercial Applicators

Initial Training

Purchase FlipBooks — Our FlipBooks provide initial training for commercial/noncommercial applicators. FlipBooks combine our text-based study manuals with the videos shown at in-person training sessions, in a convenient digital format. They are the best way to prepare for commercial/noncommercial applicator exams. FlipBooks cannot be downloaded; you must have an internet connection to use them.

Taking Exams

Due to the need for social distancing, nearly all testing has been suspended. If you have questions about applicator exams, please contact NDA at 402-471-2351.

Recertification Training

All 2020 recertification training options have concluded.


Chemigation

Online chemigation training course — Both initial (first-time) certification and recertification for chemigation licenses can be accomplished entirely online by completing the online course and test.

  • Those seeking recertification will enter their Chemigation Applicator ID number
  • Those seeking initial certification will type 'INITIAL' instead of a number.