Online learning: Treatment—Safe use of pesticides

The use of lice treatments should not be taken lightly, they have been responsible for illness in many farmers and shearers. Protect yourself and staff by using them safely.

Structured reading

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Safety
Introduction to safe use of pesticieds.

Use of pesticides for controlling lice—occupational health and safety
How to use pesticides safely.

Question and answer

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Questions:

  1. What are the three main ways you can be exposed to pesticides when treating sheep for lice?
  2. How do different application methods affect likely exposure to chemicals?
  3. How can an operator minimise their risk of exposure to pesticides?
  4. What group of chemicals currently used to treat lice has the highest level of toxity for humans and so presents the greatest health risk if not used in a safe manner?
  5. Where do you find the minimum protective clothing and equipment recommended?
  6. What protective clothing is essential for jetting sheep or other tasks that necessitate handling wet, treated sheep?
  7. What is your duty of care regarding lice pesticides?
  8. What should you do if you suspect someone may have been poisoned by pesticides?

Answers:

You can also click on each question below to go to WormBoss pages with related information.
 

1. What are the three main ways you can be exposed to pesticides when treating sheep for lice?

  1. Dermal or skin exposure when chemical comes into direct contact with exposed skin, or where chemical soaks through clothing, or from handling recently treated stock.
  2. Oral ingestion, most often by handling food without first washing hands or drinking from a water bottle that may have been contaminated with chemical.
  3. Inhalation of chemical fumes, particularly when mixing concentrate, or inhaling aerosol droplets formed during treatment of sheep.
     

2. How do different application methods affect likely exposure to chemicals?

If used according to label directions, backline applications generally pose the least risk of inadvertent chemical exposure. Watch out for leaking backpacks or application guns.

With shower dips, hand-jetting and jetting races, deflected spray or overspray can wet operators. These methods also produce aerosol droplets that can be inhaled. Wetting from overspray while operating the on/off valve for the top and bottom nozzles appears to be a major risk for operators of shower dips.

With hand jetting, the close proximity of the operator to the jetting wand and treated sheep presents a significant risk, whereas with jetting races accidental wetting from deflected sprays while moving stalled sheep, and the inhalation of aerosol droplets, present major risks.

With plunge dips, the main risk is during mixing of the dip wash and from splashing of sheep as they enter and leave the dip. Standing too close to sheep that shake after leaving the dip and handling wet or recently treated sheep are other means of exposure.

Although operated in essentially the same way, there are several styles of immersion cage dips. These vary in their design and in the protection from spray drift they afford the operator.
 

3. How can an operator minimise their risk of exposure to pesticides?

  • Read and follow the safety direction on the label before each use.
  • Choose a product with low toxicity and a method of application that minimises operator exposure.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing, as indicated on the label when handling the chemical or treated sheep.
  • Avoid ingestion by washing hands, arms and face with soap and water after handling pesticides and especially before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Avoid breathing fumes or droplets from pesticide concentrates or diluted solution by wearing appropriate protective clothing and a face shield when handling pesticides and treated sheep.
  • Install physical barriers (such as high, solid walls) to reduce operator exposure from dip/jetting fluid overspray.
  • Comply with the wool rehandling period and the wool harvesting interval stated on the label.
  • Observe meat withholding periods and export slaughter intervals if sheep are to be sold for slaughter after treatment.
  • Handling concentrates during mixing poses a particular safety risk. All precautions recommended on the label should be closely followed. Wear a face shield when dispensing product from the container.
     

4. What group of chemicals currently used to treat lice has the highest level of toxicity for humans and so presents the highest risk if not used in a safe manner?

Of the active ingredients commonly used on sheep, those in the OP (organophosphate) chemical group have the highest toxicity and represent the greatest risk.
 

5. Where do you find the minimum protective clothing and equipment recommended?

On the product label.
 

6. What protective clothing is essential for jetting sheep or other tasks that necessitate handling wet, treated sheep?

Waterproof pants, gloves and boots are essential.
 

7. What is your duty of care regarding lice pesticides?

Litigation in New South Wales in the mid 1990s, resulting from the exposure of shearers during the use of pesticides on the shearing board, has made it clear that everyone working in the rural industry has a ‘duty of care’; a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees. This duty of care must be demonstrated in all practices undertaken in the workplace. Attending a farm chemical safety training course and/or supporting employees to do the same is strongly recommended.
 

8. What should you do if you suspect someone may have been poisoned by pesticides?

  • Don’t ‘wait and see’, instead, seek advice:
  • Call an ambulance—dial 000
  • Call the Poisons Information Centre—dial 13 11 26

 


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