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The Five Golden Rules for safe use of Crop Protection Products (pesticides)

N.B. This is a text only version of the training module "Five Golden Rules for Safe Use of Crop Protection Products (pesticides)" which is also available to download as a PowerPoint presentation or view as a Flash Movie. 

Five golden Rules for Safe Use of Crop Protection Products (pesticides).

  1. Exercise caution at all times.
  2. Read and understand the product label.
  3. Practice good personal hygiene.
  4. Take care of and maintain application equipment.
  5. Wear appropriate Personal Protective clothing and Equipment (PPE).

1. Exercise caution at all times

  • Always keep products under lock and key, out of the reach of children and animals.
  • Handle and transport products with caution. Transport pesticides separately from foodstuff or animals.
  • Always triple rinse emptied product containers and dispose by following local best practice.
  • Wear a hat and do not spray during the hottest part of the day.
  • Carry an adequate supply of drinking water to avoid dehydration. Always wash before drinking.

2. Read and understand the product label

Example of product label (13.5 Kb JPEG)
Example of product label

The product label contains important information on product features and on risks relating to product use, together with correct measures to take in the case of an emergency.

  • Always follow the label instructions for use (crops, targets application rates and water volumes per unit area).
  • If you cannot understand  the label then have it read and explained to you
  • Understand the meaning of the pictograms if used.
  • Read the emergency procedures.
  • Check that the product has not expired.
  • Check when purchasing products that the WHO hazard classification colour coding band and select the least hazardous.
Example of product label with pictograms (32 Kb JPEG)
Example of product label with pictograms

Much advice stated on product labels:

  • The products ‘field of use’ -  crop/pest/disease target
  • IPM principles  
  • Post harvest interval
  • Dose rates and frequency of use
  • Timing of application
    •  weed size,
    • crop stage,
    • pest density and
    • fungal infection
  • Water volume rate and spray quality/drop size
  • Maximum concentration of product
  • Use of Personal Protection Equipment
  • Some information is presented as pictograms that follow agreed formats 
  • Nozzle type and spray pressure
  • Specific equipment advice

3. Practice good personal hygiene

  • Always have clean water available when working with chemicals.
  • Wash any chemical splashes immediately from skin or eyes.
  • Do not eat, smoke or drink whilst handling, working with or applying pesticides.
  • Always wash yourself and clothes after working with chemicals.
  • Wash spray clothes separately from the domestic washing.
  • Do not work with chemicals if you feel unwell before you start. 

4. Take care of and maintain application equipment.

  • Check spraying equipment before use; any leaks must be repaired before use.
  • Check the nozzle is working correctly, clean or replace if necessary.
  • Spraying equipment should be calibrated at least once a season depending on the amount of use.
  • Wash spraying equipment after use and store securely away from children, animals and feed.
  • Always avoid operator exposure to any spray drift; walk up-wind from the nozzle.
  • Do not spray in windy conditions.

5. Wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment (PPE)

  • Follow the label pictograms for PPE requirements for both mixing and spraying.
  • Different products and application methods sometimes require different PPE.
  • The minimum requirement is long sleeved shirt, long trousers and non absorbent footwear when spraying with nozzle at less than waist height.  The use of a wide brimmed hat will give protection from both the sun and potential spray drift.
  • When mixing liquids, eye and hand protection are also required. A dust mask is required when mixing powder formulations.
  • Wash gloves before removal to avoid potential contamination.


  1. What are the 5 golden rules?
  2. What information can be found on a product label?
  3. What measures are important when considering your personal hygiene?
  4. What steps should be taken before attempting an application?
  5. What are the basic requirements for personal protective equipment?

Trainer Notes:

Have some examples of product labels and
Some examples of PPE