By Gemma Lloyd
Yorkshire land based training course provider, Lowe Maintenance, is seeing an uptake in visits to their pesticides courses as the HSE cracks down on breaches, which carries an unlimited fine.
Even fielding a pesticide course enquiry from the HSE themselves, Lowe Maintenance are finding the amount of pesticide-related search traffic and course page views has increased steadily over the course of the year, resulting in bookings for their new-format courses.
Misuse of pesticides is an ongoing and serious issue, as demonstrated by the unlimited fines that can be imposed for breaches. Professional users of pesticides have a legal responsibility to ensure they protect the health of human beings, creatures, and plants, safeguard the environment and secure safe, efficient and humane methods of controlling pests. If a user is not adhering to the Pesticides Code of Practice, they could be prosecuted under legislation like the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.
Managing director of Lowe Maintenance, Demelza Lowe, said: “One of the main reasons people would fail when they’re audited by the HSE is because they aren’t qualified in the correct units of application. All of the other elements of the inspection – ensuring products are legal, equipment and storage are safe and follow guidelines, PPE and record-keeping – all of this is addressed within a good training course. It’s really essential that you’re informed to not only cover yourself, but to protect the environment too.”
To meet the HSE regulations and ensure the safe handling and application of pesticides, it is necessary to take a core unit, plus a unit that focuses on the type of application you intend to use. These range widely from stem injection equipment for invasive plant species to specific units on applying pesticides to or near water.
Demelza continued: “Within the land-based sector and the work we do, there is still the need to use pesticides. However, this must be done safely, correctly and legally. We have a responsibility to ensure the use of pesticides is done so ideally as a last resort, not the first port of call we jump to because it may be the quickest and easiest.”
Safe and competent users only use pesticides where necessary and actively put measures in place to protect the environment, such as carrying out environmental risk assessments, calibrating applicators, using the correct nozzles, implementing no-spray zones and controlling drift.
With over 16 years in land based training and forestry course provision, Lowe Maintenance have recently developed their pesticides courses to be more accessible, with a combination of online learning and face-to-face assessments.