Herbicide safety

Page last updated: Monday, 2 February 2015 - 5:08pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.


Most operators wear only cotton overalls while spraying. PVC aprons are quick to put on before chemical drums are lifted for pouring. Any spillage can be quickly washed off without affecting the overalls. Aprons should cover from the shoulder to below the top of the boots.


  • The half-face twin cartridge respirator usually meets most spraying requirements. They come in three sizes to suit various faces.
  • The half-face single cartridge is satisfactory but the cartridge should be changed more often than the twin cartridge mask.

Respirator cartridges

The multipurpose agricultural filter is best for general spraying. It contains both a cotton filter and activated carbon to remove both dust and organic solvent vapour.

Cotton and paper masks are satisfactory for removing dusts but are not suitable where organic solvents are used. Only activated carbon will remove these vapours.

The dust filters are full when it becomes hard to breathe. Activated carbon filters are full when the operator can ‘smell’ the chemical being used. They can be tested by trying to smell perfume through the mask. If you can smell the perfume replace the filters. (This is assuming the mask has a snug fit on the operator’s face.)

Operators with heavy beards are likely to find difficulty obtaining a proper face fitting respirator.

Activated carbon filters must be stored in a convenient sealed container such as a plastic lunch box to maximise their useful life. If left out they will continue to absorb organic vapours like diesel and petrol.

For added protection

  • Always carry at least 20L of water, soap and paper towelling with the spray outfit for washing hands, face and other areas of exposed skin, and especially your eyes.
  • Wash thoroughly with soap and water after mixing chemicals and before eating, drinking or smoking or after work.
  • Barrier cream may be used on the hands but is not a protection against chemical penetration.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080
Andrew Reeves
+61 (0)8 9780 6224