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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Chemicals and pesticides

Compulsory training in pesticide use: you must be re-accredited every five years

Pesticides can be dangerous if incorrectly applied or managed, especially to people who work with pesticides or are regularly exposed to them. Training in their correct use minimises mistakes being made when using pesticides and is one of the most effective ways of protecting workers who use pesticides regularly, their families, the community, trade and the environment.

Since 1 September 2005 training in the use of pesticides has been compulsory. If you use pesticides in your job or business you must achieve and maintain a specific level of competency in pesticide use.

Who must be trained?

If you are a farmer, market gardener, flower grower, ground rig operator, parkland or green keeper, landscape gardener, nursery operator, wood preservation operator, landlord, or use pesticides on behalf of a local council or government agency; or otherwise use pesticides in your job, you must be trained in pesticide use. Your training must be renewed every five years by completing a short refresher course.

This includes anyone who uses any type of pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, bactericides, baits, lures and rodenticides (rat poison) in their work.

If you are a pest management technician, fumigator or an aerial applicator licensed under the Pesticides Act 1999 these training requirements do not apply to you. There are separate training requirements necessary for this work.

What sort of training is needed?

There is a range of training available to suit all types of pesticide users. In most cases the training involves a two-day course, based on competencies from the AHC Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package. You can also become qualified by demonstrating to a registered training organisation that you know how to use pesticides in your job or business. (For details of training courses, providers and assessors see Where can I find out more? below).

The Environment Protection Authority strongly encourages people who must be trained to seek training that is appropriate for their level of work and experience. This means people who are working as unsupervised operators/farmers should seek training at Australian Qualifications Framework Level 3 (AQF3). The minimum level of competency in pesticide use required under the Regulation is Australian Qualifications Framework Level 2 (AQF2). Competencies that must be obtained are listed in the current notice of approved units of competency (PDF 397KB), which was gazetted on 3 February 2017.

People who have language or literacy difficulties and are unable to fulfil the requirements of the AQF3 chemical competencies can be deemed competent at AQF2 if they have successfully demonstrated competence at that level. Major providers of chemical training have agreed to provide training on this basis. More details are available in the notice of approved units of competency (PDF 397KB).

I only use small quantities of pesticides in my work - do I have to be trained?

You do not need to be trained if you only use small quantities of household pesticides as part of your business or work, provided that you do all of the following:

  • you only apply pesticides that are ordinarily used for domestic purposes (e.g. in the home or garden), and are widely available to the general public at retail outlets such as supermarkets
  • you apply the pesticide by hand or by using hand-held equipment
  • if you use the pesticides outdoors, you use no more than five litres/five kilograms of concentrate or 20 litres/20 kilograms of ready-to-use product
  • if you use the pesticides indoors you use no more than one litre/one kilogram of concentrate or five litres/five kilograms of ready-to-use product.

What happens if I do not comply with the training laws?

Authorised officers may, at any reasonable time, ask for evidence of training. If you are a pesticide user and you are unable to show evidence that you have completed compulsory training in pesticides use and/or you have allowed your training to expire without been reaccredited you risk a $400 fine. Penalties also apply if you engage a person to apply pesticides who does not have the training required by the Pesticides Regulation 2009. Penalties may also apply if you misuse a training qualification.

Where can I find out more?

For more information see:

Educational resources including a video and posters about the safe use of pesticides are available in a number of community languages to complement formal training courses.

If you are not sure whether you need to be trained or retrained, or if you have any questions, please contact Environment Line.

Page last updated: 23 February 2017