Compulsory record keeping

All people who use pesticides as part of their job must record their pesticide use. Records provide vital information if an incident occurs, protect the pesticide user by providing evidence they used pesticides responsibly, and help track the effectiveness of pesticides.

The record must be

  • made within 48 hours of using the pesticide
  • kept for 3 years

Under Part 4 of the Pesticides Regulation 2017, it is compulsory for all people who use pesticides for commercial or occupational purposes to record their pesticide use. This includes farmers, market gardeners, parkland and green keepers, nursery operators, pest management technicians, fumigators, ground rig operators, landlords, landscape gardeners, local councils and government agencies, and other people who use pesticides as part of their job.

Licensed pesticide users must record extra information in their records of pesticide use which are specified under clause 36(2) of the Pesticides Regulation 2017. There are also specific records of pesticide use, under Part 2, clause 26(4) of the Pesticides Regulation 2017, required for licensed businesses that aerially apply pesticides.

Aerial operators may need to record written evidence of prior consent from the occupiers of nearby properties under pesticide control order Air-1.

Important note: If a pesticide label or Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) permit requires that you make a record of pesticide use, you must do so, in accordance with the conditions stated, even if you do not normally have to make and keep records.

You do not need to make a record when you use pesticides around your own home or garden, or when using things such as personal insect repellents, cockroach baits or flea powders on pets or pesticides unless the label requires you to make a record.

Pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, fumigants, bactericides, rodenticides, baits, lures and repellents. Products used on animals to control external parasites are also considered pesticides if they require dilution or mixing with water, unless they are listed as a low-risk veterinary chemical product in the Regulation to the Stock Medicines Act 1989 (none had been as at December 2013).

You usually need to make a record of using pesticides when

  • spraying crops, plants or other produce
  • spraying before planting or after harvesting
  • dipping fruit or vegetables
  • baiting pests like rabbits, foxes, wild dogs or feral pigs
  • controlling pests in and around buildings
  • spraying places such as golf courses, bowling greens, ovals, playing fields or road verges
  • controlling external parasites on livestock, except when using hand-held equipment

Exemptions apply for domestic like uses of pesticides.

If you use pesticides as part of your business or occupation you do not have to keep a record for jobs where you do all the following

  • you only use pesticides that are available to everyone for home or garden use, and
  • you apply the pesticide by hand or by using hand-held equipment only, and
  • you use the pesticide outdoors in quantities of no more than 5 litres/5 kilograms of concentrated product or 20 litres/20 kilograms of ready-to-use product, or
  • you use the pesticide indoors in quantities of no more than 1 litre/1 kilogram of concentrated product or 5 litres/5 kilograms of the ready-to-use product

Records may also not be required for certain other small-scale uses of agricultural pesticides.

Who applied the pesticide

Record the name, address and contact telephone numbers of the person who applied the pesticide. If a contractor or employee applied it, they need to record their name as well as the name, address and contact details of their employer.

The names, addresses and contact details need to be complete. Record

  • first name and last name, not nicknames
  • the full property address and telephone numbers
  • email, fax and mobile phone numbers

If you are the on-site supervisor for a public authority, for example, you are supervising a council work team treating a weed infestation, you need to record the names of all volunteers, trainees or paid members of the team you are supervising to apply pesticides. This applies where pesticides are applied by hand or with hand-held equipment.

However, if non hand-held equipment is used, all users in the team would need to make an individual record.

When you applied the pesticide

Record the date you applied the pesticide.

Details of the pesticide you used

Record the full product name of the pesticide that you used. This is usually found below the warning statements (signal headings) at the top of the label and above the active constituent information. A product name may include letters or numbers as part of its name and these must be recorded too. For example, 'glyphosate' is insufficient while 'Bloggs Glyphosate 360 Herbicide' would be correct.

Aerial operators must also record the active constituent(s) in the product applied.

Details of where the pesticide was used

Name the situation in which you used the pesticide. For example,

  • spraying crops such as wheat, coriander or macadamia
  • using a pesticide on flowers such as chrysanthemums
  • spraying fallow land
  • applying a pesticide to rooms in a house

Be as specific as possible. For example, record the exact vegetables you sprayed such as 'spinach and onions', do not just record 'vegetables'.

How much pesticide you used

Record the

  • total amount of pesticide mix you made up and used
  • rate of application, that is, how much of the product was applied, either as concentrated formulation or ready-to-use mix
  • area covered in the application, for example, 5 square metres or 50 hectares

Where you applied the pesticide

Record the property address and a delineation of the area where the pesticide was released. You could use a sketch or map of the property with blocks or paddocks marked on it to show the specific areas of the property you treated.

Alternatively, you could record the area on a map that shows surrounding roads, streets, fences, waterways or other landmarks that indicate the boundaries of the property and the areas where you applied pesticides.

Weather - wind speed and direction

If you are outdoors and spraying pesticide through the air, you need to record an estimate of the wind strength and direction, for example, 'a light breeze was blowing from the north-east'. You do not need special equipment for this. Estimating wind speed by using the Beaufort Scale which relies on the movement of trees, flags or smoke is acceptable. Details can be found on the Bureau of Meterology website.

You also need to record any significant weather changes during the application, for example, when a change in weather conditions increases the risk of spray drift.

The best wind conditions for applying pesticides are when the wind is blowing lightly and steadily away from sensitive areas. The document Spray Drift Management: Principles, Strategies and Supporting Information published in 2002 by the Primary Industries Standing Committee and CSIRO Publications provides guidance on managing spray drift.

If the pesticide you are using does not travel through the air, for example, dipping fruit or vegetables after harvest or laying pest baits, you do not need to record weather details.

Some labels restrict the use of the pesticide in certain weather conditions. For example, if the label says

  • 'do not apply if rain is expected within 6 hours of application', record whether rain is expected
  • 'do not apply when temperatures are above 27 degrees C', record the temperature when the pesticide was used
  • 'avoid spraying when the relative humidity is less than 40%', record percentage of humidity when the pesticide was used

If you need to record rainfall, temperature or humidity, you must also record any significant changes during the application, for example, when a change in weather conditions increases the risk of off-target movement of the pesticide.

Some information may remain the same from one application to the next so you can record it in one place and refer to it rather than write it out in full each time you need to make a record.

For example, you could keep a book with

  • names and contact details of the people who apply pesticides on your property
  • a list of the full product names of the pesticides they use regularly
  • a sketch of your property which identifies your growing areas or blocks

When you then make a record, you could refer to the specific blocks, pesticides used and the person applying the pesticide according to your book without having to repeat the same details.

As well as the mandatory details that must be recorded by all pesticide users outlined above, licensed pesticide users must also record the following information.

How you applied the pesticide

Name the equipment that you used e.g. mister, fogger, backpack, wiper, ground-rig, truck-mounted boom, tractor-mounted boomsprayer etc.

The EPA suggests that you also note down nozzle settings and calibration information, as this may help to show you took all care to avoid any off-target movement of the pesticide.

The time you applied the pesticide

You must record the time you started and finished applying the pesticide.

The order in which you applied the pesticide

If more than one area of land was treated as part of the same job record the order in which the paddocks, areas or blocks were treated. For example, 'sprayed blocks 1, 5, 2 and 3, in that order'. This requirement does not apply to pest management technicians.

The owner or occupier of the land/area being treated

Record the name, address and contact details of the person in charge of the place where the pesticide was applied. This may be the owner of the land, a farm manager, a lessee or rental occupier. This does not apply if the owner or occupier are the same person that is applying the pesticides.

The names and contact details recorded need to be complete.

Pesticide use information that must be recorded by licensed persons aerially applying pesticides is given on the aerially applying pesticides web page.

You do not have to use a special recording form - any suitable format is fine. You may already keep records for quality assurance programs and these will be sufficient if they include all the requirements specified here. If your current records do not include all the requirements, simply add in the missing information. You do not need to keep two sets of records.

The EPA has developed a simple standard form (DOCX 71KB) you can use if you wish. 

If you apply the same pesticide to different paddocks, crops or sections of roadside as part of the same job on one day, you only need to make one record and say which paddocks, crops or streets you treated. For example, if you sprayed the same pesticide mixture to tomatoes and cucumbers as part of the same job, you can make a single record for that job. You do not need two separate records.

As records need to be made within 48 hours of applying the pesticide, if your job goes for more than one day you would need to make a completely new record for each new day.

It is the responsibility of the person applying the pesticide to make sure that an accurate record of that application has been made.

If you

  • apply the pesticide, you need to make the record or make sure an accurate record is made for you
  • are the on-site supervisor for team work being done for a council or government agency, whether it is voluntary or paid work, and the team is applying pesticides by hand or hand-held equipment such as hand-operated backpacks or cut and paint techniques, you have to make the record
  • are using powered equipment, for example, a boom-sprayer or ground-rig, as part of such a team working on the same job, every member of your team needs to make their own record

Making a record on behalf of another person

Someone else can write down the record for you but it is up to you, the pesticide user, to make sure the record is accurate.

Keeping the record

If you are the owner, occupier or manager of the land on which you or your employees applied pesticides you need to keep a record of those applications.

If you are a business whose employees apply pesticides, you will need to ensure that the records your employees make are kept by you.

You will need to give a copy of your record to the owner or occupier of the land on which the pesticide was applied if you are a contractor working

  • on behalf of a public authority
  • on a bowling green or golf course
  • in agriculture, farming or forestry

A public authority needs to keep a copy of records made by its contractors or employees.

If there is sufficient evidence to show that a person did not comply with the legislation, the EPA would assess whether to warn the offender, issue a penalty notice or prosecute. The EPA Prosecution Guidelines set out policy on issuing penalty notices and conducting prosecutions.

Penalty notice fines for record keeping offences range from $150 to $750 for individuals and $300 to $1500 for corporations.

Maximum penalties for prosecutions are $22,000 for individuals and $44,000 for corporations.

The EPA undertakes audit programs to check compliance with various aspects of pesticide use, which may include record keeping. The EPA also investigates allegations of pesticide misuse. EPA-authorised officers will always show you their authorisation card with photo identification before commencing an audit or an investigation.

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