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I'm an agrichemical user. What training do I need?

There are requirements under both Environmental Protection Authority and WorkSafe for training and/or certification - these are listed below.  The rules are quite complicated but our decision tree for agrichemical users will help you identify the appropriate training and certification for you and the staff at your workplace. We also have another decision tree setting out requirements for the purchase of certain classes of products.

NOTE: If you spray in public places, for example, if you are an employee of a city council, then consider whether you should be following the requirements for a spray contractor rather than an agrichemical applicator. Some regional plans require people spraying in public areas to have the same training and certification as contractors, and it is certainly recommended good practice as the same risks apply whether you are an employee or contractor.

General WorkSafe requirements

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, all workers must have the training and supervision they need to operate safely with and around hazardous substances ie to be a competent agrichemical user. If workers don’t have the knowledge and experience they need, they must be supervised by someone who does.
Your training and instruction should cover:
  • information on the hazards of the products you are using (eg labels, SDSs and HazNotes)
  • training on how to manage the risks associated with the products you are using (eg a Growsafe course)
  • specific training in your workplace procedures (eg your emergency plan or operating procedures for PPE maintenance)
  • practice in safely using any equipment, machinery and PPE, and a period of practical experience under supervision.
If you change jobs, you will need to receive site-specific induction and supervision in the new workplace. Training is not a one-off obligation. Your PCBU needs to ensure your knowledge and skills are still current and up-to-date. More information can be found in WorkSafe’s Quick Guide to Information, training and instruction for workers handling hazardous substances.

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Certified Handler (previously Approved Handler)

Certified handler is a HSW Act control specific to some classes of products.  A certified handler is someone qualified to handle very toxic substances.  A certified handler may also provide guidance and assistance to other people handling the substances. You need to be a certified handler if you want to purchase or use highly toxic products (such as Paraquat or Counter 20G) that have the following hazard classifications:
  • Acutely toxic category 1 (HSNO class 6.1A)
  • Acutely toxic category 2 (HSNO class 6.1B)
For more information on certified handler, see our webpage  or get started with our online preparation course.

Note: under the other requirements on this page, it is very likely you will need the appropriate Growsafe certificate in addition to Certified Handler certificate, unless you are not responsible for applying the product.

Competent person (previously Approved Handler)

Competent person is a EPA requirement for the use of other products with high human health risk that don't require certified handler.  A Growsafe Standard certificate (or higher) will provide evidence of competency. You must be a competent person if you wish to purchase products with the following hazard classifications, and they may only be used in the workplace, not at home:
  • Acutely toxic category 3 (HSNO class 6.1C)
  • Carcinogenicity category 1 (HSNO class 6.7A)
  • Skin corrosion category 1A (HSNO class 8.2A)

Qualified person (previously Approved Handler)

If you are using the following classes of ecotoxic products, then in many circumstances the product will need to be under the control of a qualified person:
  • Hazardous to the aquatic environment category 1 (HSNO class 9.1A)
  • Very toxic to the soil environment (HSNO class 9.2A)
  • Very toxic to terrestrial vertebrates (HSNO class 9.3A)
  • Very toxic to terrestrial invertebrates (HSNO class 9.4A)
  • Other products specifically named by EPA.

A qualified person may supervise others applying these ecotoxic products. This requires you to:
  • provide guidance to the person doing the spraying (guidance must be specific to the job)
  • be available at all times to provide assistance if necessary (you do not need to be at the application site).
The qualifications required vary depending on the risk which is based largely on the type of equipment being used.


Method of use Qualification needed to be a Qualified Person
Ground based application using
  • non-motorised equipment or
  • handheld motorised equipment
    • with a tank capacity of less than 30 litres; and
    • more than 30m from water or a sensitive habitat
eg hydraulic knapsack, motorised knapsack away from sensitive areas
Not applicable
Spraying in/onto water
eg aquatic weed management
Growsafe Standard (or equivalent) plus unit standard 6240 for aquatic weed control
All other spraying
eg spraying near water, gun spraying, airblast or boom spraying
Growsafe Standard (or equivalent)

Full definitions of qualified person and alternative qualifications are in the EPA’s Hazardous Substances (Hazardous Property Controls) Notice
These requirements for qualifications replace the previous requirements for Approved Handler certificates when ecotoxic products are used in a wide dispersive manner. Under the transition arrangements, Approved Handler certificates are acceptable qualifications until they expire.


Regional plan requirements

In addition to the national requirements sent out above, there are often additional training and certification requirements set out in regional plans. These may require a Growsafe Standard certificate or equivalent for some or all types of agrichemicals when applied with motorised equipment.