Pesticides Directive - Chapter 2-15

Addresses occupational health and safety standards and procedures, both technical and administrative, which apply to the activity reflected in its title. This document should be read in conjunction with the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, which may exceed some of the requirements found in this directive.
Date modified: 2006-06-08

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Collective agreement

This Directive is deemed to be part of collective agreements between the parties to the National Joint Council and employees are to be afforded ready access to this Directive.

Grievance procedure

In cases of alleged misinterpretation or misapplication arising out of this Directive, the grievance procedure, for all represented employees within the meaning of the Public Service Labour Relations Act, will be in accordance with Section 7.0 of the National Joint Council By Laws. For unrepresented employees the departmental grievance procedure applies. (revised April 1, 2005)

Effective date

This directive was effective on November 1, 1993.


This directive incorporates the minimum requirements of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, and applicable regulations issued pursuant to that legislation, and applies to all departments and other portions of the Public Service, as defined in Schedules I and IV of the Financial Administration Act. (revised April 1, 2005)


In this directive:

  • pest means any injurious, noxious or troublesome insect, fungus, bacterial organism, virus, weed, rodent or other plant or animal pest, and includes any injurious, noxious or troublesome organic function of a plant or animal; (parasite)
  • pesticide means a product registered and listed under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) and its regulations intended to prevent, destroy or manage a pest; this includes antimicrobial agents such as disinfectants and sanitizers listed in the PCP Regulations; (pesticide)
  • qualified person means a person who, because of knowledge, training and experience is licensed or certified in accordance with a provincial or national program. (personne qualifiée)


15.1 Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

15.1.1 Departments shall develop pest management programs that incorporate Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles and practices to reduce the use of broad spectrum pesticides.

15.1.2 When a decision is made to use pesticides within the context of an IPM program, the department must ensure that employees are not exposed to health hazards from pesticides.

15.1.3 The goal of IPM is to manage pests effectively, safely and economically, by:

  1. reducing the use of broad spectrum pesticides, and using more pest/target specific control products;
  2. reducing the level of toxicity of products used;
  3. using alternate control methods; and
  4. improving and perfecting on methodology used.

15.1.4 IPM is an approach to pest management that integrates all pest management practices and control methods into one pest management program. IPM does not usually try to eliminate all pests, but tries to reduce the pest population to an acceptable level. In IPM, the use of pesticides is advocated as a last resort only.

15.1.5 IPM involves:

  1. identifying pests;
  2. determining the cause and source of the pest;
  3. knowing the pest's life cycle, behaviour and effects on its host, and the most vulnerable period in its life cycle;
  4. monitoring pest activities and effectiveness of control or management methods;

15.1.6 IPM requires knowing and using available methods, such as:

  1. approved biological controls including:
    • parasitic and predatory insects; and
    • host specific pathogens,
  2. maximizing a plant's health and minimizing its susceptibility to pest infestations by:
    • crop rotation;
    • moisture control;
    • planting techniques; and
    • sanitation.
  3. genetic selection, i.e., resistant species and varieties of plants;
  4. mechanical controls; e.g., trapping, cultivating, physical barriers;
  5. the use of pesticides which are of relatively low toxicity to human and animal populations, and of low persistency in the environment; e.g., insecticidal soaps;
  6. the use of conventional pesticides in a prescribed manner;

15.2 Work procedures

15.2.1 Each department in which pesticides are used, handled, stored or disposed of shall ensure the manufacturers instructions as detailed on the pesticide label, on a material safety data sheet (MSDS) or other manufacturer literature is readily available in the workplace and followed.

15.2.2 Where, for research purposes or otherwise, deviations from the manufacturer's instructions are required, an application for a research permit under the requirements of the PCPA shall be obtained before proceeding with such use.

15.2.3 Detailed written procedures regarding the safe use, handling, storage, transportation and disposal of such pesticides including circumstances where the employee may be required to work alone are developed in consultation with the Health and Safety Committee, prominently displayed in the workplace, and explained to all employees concerned.

15.2.4 Pesticides shall be used, handled, mixed and disposed of by qualified persons.

15.2.5 When pest control is contracted out, contractors shall be certified or licensed in accordance with the applicable provincial requirements; the provisions of the IPM program shall apply.

15.2.6 A spill contingency plan appropriate to the scale of operations shall be in place prior to any application of pesticides.

15.3 Substitution

15.3.1 The least toxic of pesticides recommended for control of a pest or an alternate acceptable control method shall be used whenever control or management of a pest is required. Pesticides known or suspected as human carcinogens shall not be utilized except under restricted procedures, and such use shall be conducted by a qualified person.

15.4 Isolation

15.4.1 To the extent possible, potentially hazardous pesticide operations should be either isolated from the worker or the worker isolated from the operation. Isolation techniques that should be considered include but are not limited to the following:

  1. positive pressure tractor cabs with filtered air supply;
  2. conducting pesticide operations when the least number of employees are in the area;
  3. isolation chambers for research application of high concentrations of toxic pesticides; and
  4. enclosing of pesticide transfer points in handling facilities and automated pesticide application.

15.5 Protective equipment and clothing

15.5.1 Where total isolation from exposure to pesticides is not feasible, approved respiratory protective devices, eye protection, and personal protective clothing and equipment appropriate to the potential hazard as identified on the pesticide label or MSDS shall be provided and worn whenever pesticides are handled or used. Personal protective equipment (including first aid supplies and portable eye wash stations) shall not be kept in the same storage room as pesticides to avoid contamination. Departments shall provide personal protective equipment and clothing in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations and Directive 2-14 (Personal Protective Equipment Safety) and the Clothing Directive, as a minimum requirement.

15.6 Storage

15.6.1 To the extent possible, quantities of pesticides purchased and stored shall not exceed the needs of one season in accordance with a pest management program. To the extent possible, pesticides shall be kept in their original containers with labels intact and separately stored in locked cabinets. Storage cabinets and rooms shall be vented to the outside with controlled access to avoid unauthorized use. Shelving shall be secure and impervious; and no higher than 150 cm unless specifically designed for safe access above eye level. Appropriate warning signs shall be prominently displayed to identify such locations. Spill control material appropriate to the pesticides in storage shall be maintained at the storage site.

15.7 Disposal

15.7.1 During disposal procedures, all possible precautions shall be taken to ensure that persons and the environment cannot be subsequently contaminated. Waste disposal shall be conducted in accordance with the manufacturer's directions on labels, MSDS and Environment Canada's Code of Good Practice for Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal of Pesticides at Federal Facilities or with other codes or requirements authorized by Environment Canada for this purpose.

15.8 Mixing, loading and application equipment

15.8.1 Before mixing and using pesticides, the work procedures developed under Section 15.2 shall be read for special instructions for personal protection and special procedures.

15.8.2 Measuring, mixing, and loading pesticides is the most hazardous stage of pesticide use because of the possibility of contact with the concentrated product.

15.8.3 In addition to appropriate protective clothing and safety equipment identified on the label or MSDS, a liquid-proof apron, to cover the body from chest to knees, should be worn.

15.8.4 Scales, measuring cups, mixing pails, and other equipment used in these operations, shall be used only for pesticides. Equipment shall be cleaned and returned to locked storage when not in use.

15.8.5 Application equipment shall be selected, calibrated, operated, and maintained in accordance with established procedures to ensure employee safety and uniform application of the pesticide only to the desired target area at the correct rate and to prevent contamination of non-target areas.

Application of pesticides

15.9 General

15.9.1 Departments shall ensure that decisions related to pesticide application programs and subsequent re-entry shall be developed in consultation with the workplace Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Committee. To the extent possible, all pesticide applications shall be carried out when employees are not present.

15.10 Indoors

15.10.1 Five days prior to the application, employees shall be informed of the intended pesticide application by way of posting signs and a notice. Both of them shall include:

  1. name of the product to be used;
  2. PCP registration number;
  3. reason for application;
  4. date of application;
  5. telephone number to contact for information;
  6. time for safe re-entry into the treated area.

15.10.2 Signs shall remain posted for at least 48 hours after application, unless a longer safe re-entry time is specified.

15.10.3 The time for safe re-entry into the treated area shall be determined by referring to the product label, the MSDS, or the Occupational and Environmental Health Services Directorate of Health Canada.

15.11 Outdoors

15.11.1 Warning signs shall be posted 24 hours prior to application. However, it is recognized that under certain unforeseen weather conditions, spraying operations may have to be initiated on short notice; under these circumstances, the 24 hour pre-application posting requirement may not be possible, but signs must nonetheless be posted prior to pesticide application.

15.11.2 Signs shall remain posted for at least 48 hours after application, unless a longer safe re-entry time is specified.

15.11.3 Signs must be made of weather resistant material. They should be approximately 50 cm high by 40 cm wide.

15.11.4 The sign shall contain the following wording:

Warning – pesticides used / Attention – pesticides utilisés

15.11.5 The sign shall also contain a warning pictogram that alerts the public not to touch or walk on treated plants or areas.

15.11.6 The sign shall also indicate the following:

  1. date of application;
  2. name of pesticide used;
  3. PCP Registration number;
  4. reason for application;
  5. telephone number for information; and
  6. safe re-entry date.

15.12 Greenhouses, barns, etc.

15.12.1 Application requirements are the same as for outdoors except that signs shall be posted 24 hours prior to application.

15.13 Personal hygiene

15.13.1 After handling pesticides and before attending to personal needs, employees should wash thoroughly, with special attention to the face, hands, hair, and under fingernails.

15.13.2 Departments shall ensure that protective clothing and equipment are cleaned after every use in accordance with Directive 14 Personal protective equipment.

15.14 Pesticide emergencies

15.14.1 If a spill or leak of pesticides occurs, the spill contingency plan prepared in accordance with 15.16.1 shall be implemented.

Transportation and decontamination

15.15 Transportation

15.15.1 Procedures developed for transporting pesticides, as outlined in article 15.2 shall meet the requirements of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (TDGA) concerning the preparation and packaging for transportation, and transporting pesticides. This includes documentation, placarding, and labelling requirements of pesticides being transported, as well as training requirements and responsibilities of employees involved in these operations. (revised May 31, 2006)

15.15.2 Certain small quantities of pesticides may be exempted from the requirements of the TDGA. This can be determined by referring to the appropriate sections of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR).

15.15.3 Pesticides shall be transported in a separate compartment from the driver and passengers, and shall not be transported in the same compartment containing animals, food, animal feed, clothing, household furnishings, or other personal items.

15.15.4 All pesticides being transported shall be inspected to ensure the integrity of containers, and be placed in the vehicle in a safe manner to avoid tipping, spilling, or leaking.

15.15.5 All pesticide containers shall have the original label intact. A list of pesticides being transported, with a copy of the labels, shall be kept by the driver.

15.15.6 Spill clean-up equipment appropriate to the quantities of pesticides being transported shall accompany the shipment.

15.15.7 Vehicles used for transportation of pesticides shall be posted with a warning sign as follows:

Warning – pesticides – attention

15.15.8 Vehicles used for transportation of pesticides shall also be:

  1. decontaminated before being used for any other purpose;
  2. equipped with safety locks and locked when unattended.

15.15.9 Vehicles used for the occasional transportation of pesticides shall meet the above requirements to the extent practicable.

15.16 Decontamination

15.16.1 Decontamination of a spill site shall be in accordance with a predetermined spill contingency plan and carried out with the latest techniques advocated by emergency organizations.

15.16.2 Decontamination of pesticide spills shall be carried out by a person trained in decontamination of pesticide spills and supervised by a qualified person.

15.16.3 All empty pesticide containers shall be decontaminated, recycled or disposed of in accordance with the Code of Good Practice for Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal of Pesticides at Federal Facilities.

15.16.4 Application equipment shall be decontaminated in accordance with the Code of Good Practice for Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal of Pesticides at Federal Facilities.


15.17 Inventories

15.17.1 An up-to-date inventory of all pesticides in storage shall be maintained. Containers must be dated when received and to the extent possible the shelf-life of the pesticide identified. The inventory list is to be kept in a separate location and made available to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Committee.

15.18 Labelling

15.18.1 As required under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), all pesticides shall be kept in original containers with the original label intact.

15.19 Monitoring

15.19.1 Procedures involving the use of pesticides, either in the laboratory or in general field application, shall be monitored at regular intervals by the responsible authority within the department to ensure that prescribed safety procedures are being followed. If an independent survey or health investigation is considered advisable at any time, a written request should be submitted to the appropriate Regional Officer, Medical Service Branch of Health Canada in accordance with TB Manual, Chapter 4-2 (Occupational Health Investigations – Surveys).

15.19.2 The Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committee shall be advised of Health and Safety investigations prior to their being conducted. All reports and data from monitoring should be made available to the Occupational Safety and Health Committee or the Safety and Health Representative.

15.20 Housekeeping

15.20.1 Appropriate good housekeeping shall be followed in all areas where pesticides are mixed, stored or handled. This includes the maintenance of absolute cleanliness of the workplace and the use of approved waste disposal facilities and techniques including adherence to the requirements of Safety Directive 18, Sanitation.

15.21 Education and training

15.21.1 Departments shall ensure that the qualified persons who use, handle, mix and dispose of pesticides are licensed or certified in accordance with a provincial or national program.

15.21.2 In addition, departments shall, in consultation with the health and safety committee or the health and safety representative, develop and implement a workplace education program for qualified persons. This program shall include the concepts and principles of the departmental IPM program and instruction related to specific pesticides used in the workplace, their hazards as outlined on labels, MSDS, and manufacturer's literature and the protection required for qualified persons to perform their duties and first aid and emergency procedures pertinent to pesticide use.

15.21.3 The workplace education program referred to above shall be reviewed, in consultation with the health and safety committee or the health and safety representative, at least once a year, whenever new pesticides are about to be introduced in the workplace, and when new hazard information about a pesticide becomes available.

15.22 First aid

15.22.1 First aid instructions, and emergency procedures as detailed on the product label, the MSDS, and in manufacturer's literature shall be followed for suspected pesticide poisoning. Procedures shall be displayed prominently in all areas where pesticides are stored, handled, used, disposed of, and where decontamination is carried out.

15.22.2 Emergency telephone numbers for first aid attendants, for the local poison control centre and for the Occupational and Environmental Health Services Directorate, Health Canada shall be prominently displayed.

15.23 Personnel monitoring

15.23.1 All personnel engaged regularly in work involving the handling of pesticides shall be examined in accordance with the provisions of TB Manual, Chapter 2-13, Occupational Health Evaluation.


15.24 Medical

15.24.1 All medical records obtained during examination of an employee under the requirements of the TB Manual, Chapter 2-13 Occupational Health Evaluation, including detailed employee history of exposure shall be maintained by the Occupational and Environmental Health Services Directorate Health Canada. Records shall be made available to an employee's physician upon request.

15.25 Pesticide application

15.25.1 Departments shall maintain records on the application of pesticides for a period of 30 years after the application date. The records shall contain the following information as a minimum:

  1. pesticide applied;
  2. PCP registration number;
  3. application rate;
  4. application site;
  5. method of application;
  6. persons applying the pesticide;
  7. reason for application;
  8. unusual circumstances which occurred during the application;
  9. reports of health or safety investigations conducted, including all sampling data and other relevant information.

15.25.2 Copies of the above records shall be placed on the personal file of employees applying pesticides and referenced on the personal file of other employees who request it.

15.26 Environmental monitoring

15.26.1 Departments shall maintain records of all environmental sampling data and reports for a period of 30 years from the date of reporting.


15.27 Organizations

15.27.1 Information on registered pesticides may be obtained from Agriculture Canada, the department responsible for the regulation of such products. Departments and employees can obtain information from Agriculture Canada's National Pesticides, call line 1-800-267-6315.

15.27.2 Health Canada will provide information on the effects of pesticide exposure, the treatment of exposed persons and advice concerning appropriate training, including emergency first aid.

15.27.3 The Environmental Protection Directorate of Environment Canada will provide advice concerning the disposal of pesticides.

15.27.4 The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) maintains databases on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), Pest Management Research Information System, and Regulatory Information on Pesticide Products.

250 Main Street East
Hamilton, On. L8N 1H6
Tel: 416-572-4400
Fax: 416-572-4500

15.27.5 The Pest Management Alternatives Office (PMAO) promotes measures that encourage the judicious use of pesticides through integrated crop management strategies.

Vanguard Building
71 Slater Street, Room 701
Ottawa, On. K1P 5H7
Tel: 613-991-1001
Fax: 613-991-0999

15.27.6 The Crop Protection Institute has available publications and videos on pesticides.

Crop Protection Institute
21 Four Seasons Place, Suite 627
Etobicoke, On. M9B 6J8
Tel: 416-622-0771
Fax: 416-622-6764

15.28 Materials

15.28.1 The following publications are available at the address indicated.

  • Code of Good Practice for the Handling, Storage, Use, and Disposal of Pesticides at Federal Facilities in Canada; (sheduled for publication: early 1994)
  • Environment Canada
    Conservation and Protection
    Environmental Protection Directorate
    Pesticide Safety (1988)
  • Pesticide Handling - A Safety Handbook (1986)
  • DND Pest Management Manual 6th Edition

    The Pest Control Products Act and Regulations
    Canadian Government Publications
    45 Sacré-Cœur blvd
    Hull, Qc K1A OS9
    Tel: 819-956-4800
    Fax: 819-994-1498
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