Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Roger Parton says local authorities should be calling on his organisation for advice and expertise on agrichemical application. His call comes as many local authorities are in the middle of drafting their regional air plans.
According to Roger, many regional and local authorities are very unclear on some of the details on agrichemical application.
He says some draft plans currently state ‘the contractor undertaking the land-based application of agrichemicals shall hold a Registered Chemical Applicator certificate or similar’.
However, he says there is no ‘similar qualification’ to a Registered Chemical Applicator certificate and adds there is also confusion in some of the draft plans as to what the qualification is and who needs to hold it.
Meanwhile, Roger says some other councils’ draft air plans have taken on the lesser qualification of ‘Approved Handler’ for agrichemical application. “That’s like saying that everyone driving council vehicles only needs to have a learner’s licence,” he says.
“However, with the new regulations around work safety and managing hazards in the workplace, I would have expected regional air plans to require a contractor / PCBU applying agrichemicals to have the top qualification – a Registered Chemical Applicator Certificate.”
Roger says Rural Contractors New Zealand members who are part of its Registered Chemical Applicator scheme are trained and regularly updated in the safe and expert handling of applying chemicals to crops and pastures.
He also adds that in the current submission put out by Environmental Protection Authority, there will be more controls on the management and the use of hazardous substances – which include agrichemicals.
“The roles of councils and their contractor / PCBU applying agrichemicals must change to meet these new standards.”
Roger believes all air plans should have the following requirements in regards to agrichemical application:
Any person applying agrichemicals in a public place or on private property for hire or reward, must be a Registered Chemical Applicator; or a holder of an Approved Handler certificate and be under the immediate and direct supervision of a holder of Registered Chemical Applicator accreditation.
This article was first published in the December 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.