Pesticides - Best Practice Guides


Spray Operator Training

Why is training needed for spray operators?

Pesticides are hazardous and must be handled responsibly and with care. It is important for the safety of everyone concerned, as well as being a legal requirement, that the people who apply them are properly trained and competant.

When using pesticides operators should be aiming to maximise the benefit whilst minimising the risk to themselves, bystanders and the environment. To make sure this happens, pesticide legislation in the UK regulates not just the products themselves but also the people who handle and use them.

What are the legal requirements for spray operator training & certification?

  • All pesticide users must be adequately trained, no matter what their age. The training should give them the same skills needed to obtain a Certificate of Competence.
  • The law requires that those born after 31 December 1964 who apply profesional (agricultural, horticultural, amenity, industrial and forestry) pesticides commercially must hold a certificate of competence. (Note: The Government considered removing "grandfather rights" in the late 1990s ie the exemption which allowed those born before 31 December 1964 to avoid obtaining a certificate but currently no change has been made to the law.
  • All contractors who apply professional pesticides must hold a certificate of competence.
  • Holders are required to produce on demand their Certificate(s) of Competence for inspection to any person authorised to enforce pesticide legislation.
  • The National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO) was established as part of the Voluntary Initiative. Membership of the register is open to all operators legally applying professional pesticides. Membership of the NRoSOdemonstrates a commitment to best practice and further training through continuing professional development. NRoSO membership is also a requirement of many farm assurance schemes.

What training is needed?

In order to gain a Certificate of Competence, spray operators must be able to demonstrate competence and understanding in the following areas:-

  • Legislation and Code of Practice relevant to the use of pesticides
  • How to read product labels in order to ensure correct use. This includes being able to identify the hazards and risks associated with the use of the product and the necessary precautions to take to minimise them
  • Identification of the features of application equipment that are designed to minimise operator contamination
  • Identification and selection of the correct personal protective equipment to use with a particular product
  • Knowledge of the correct procedures for mixing and spraying pesticides, to protect the public and the environment
  • How to dispose of surplus diluted product and the empty containers after finishing work
  • What to do in an emergency and how to get help
  • What records are required and how long to keep them
  • Knowledge of the role of health surveillance and health monitoring
  • Skills appropriate to the safe use of the equipment they normally use

How do I obtain a Certificate of Competence?

  • All candidates must first complete a Foundation Module (PA1), for which a certificate is not issued, before taking one of the specialist modules (see below).
  • Candidates must pass a practical assessment (including underpinning knowledge) offered by the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC). Details of local assessment centres can be found at
  • Because the required spraying skills vary widely among the various types of application work, candidates are assessed under one (or more) modules that are most appropriate for their professional work. Where practical it is possible to take two or more application units back to back.
  • Assessments are carried out by an approved NPTC or SSTS Assessor.
  • Certificate holders, who change their work and use different application equipment, may need to obtain a new certificate under a more relevant additional module.

Spray Operator Certificates of Competence modules

  • PA1 Foundation Module
  • PA2 Ground Crop Sprayers mounted or trailed
  • PA3 Broadcast Air Blast Sprayer. Variable Geometry Boom Air Assisted Sprayer
  • PA4 Granule Applicator mounted or trailed
  • PA5 Boat Mounted Applicators
  • PA6 Hand Held Applicators
  • PA7 Aerial Application
  • PA8 Mixer/Loader
  • PA9 Fogging, Misting and Smokes
  • PA10 Dipping Bulbs, Corms, Plant Material or Containers
  • PA11 Seed treating Equipment
  • PA12 Application of Pesticides to Material as a Continuous or Batch Process
  • PA13 Sub-surface application (soil sterilisation)

Who provides the training?

LANTRA Awards offer training courses through a network of approved training providers. Training itself is delivered by a network of registered instructers to an agreed national standard using high quality training material. Lantra Awards also offer 'Advanced Certificates in Pesticide Spray Application (Agriculture) and additional one-day courses on (1) Environmental Safety for Pesticides Use (Advanced) and (2) Effective Application of Pesticides (Advanced).
Lantra Awards can be contacted on Tel: 02476 419703 Fax: 02476 411655 email:

Agricultural and Horticultural colleges and freelance trainers also provide training. Details can be found in the yellow pages.

What other training do spray operators need?

Regular refresher training is recommended to stay up to date with new regulations and the latest thinking on best practice. Induction training on new equipment is also suggested and operators should receive training in elementary first aid to give added competence in handling emergencies.

The best way to stay up to date is to join a continuing professional development scheme such as NRoSO. NRoSO can be contacted on Tel: 02476 7685 7300 Fax 02476696128 email

What is BASIS?

BASIS is an independent officially recognised Registration Scheme for the pesticide industry. It is responsible for ensuring competence in areas of pesticide storage and advice. It does this by organising training courses and examinations for people such as advisors and storekeepers, leading to relevant Certificates of Competence.

In addition, BASIS undertakes annual assessments of pesticide supply stores, enabling distributors, contractors and seedsmen to meet their obligations under the Code of Practice for Suppliers of Pesticides. BASIS can be contacted on: Tel: 01335 343945 Fax: 01335 346488 e-mail:

This guide was produced by the Crop Protection Association.

May 2005

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