Winter Gritting Experts

Company Usage Guide to Glyphosate August 2018

August 23, 2018

If your company is using weedkillers like Roundup on its grounds then the latest high-profile USA court ruling against Monsanto and their product Roundup, has no doubt got senior managers asking about their company policy and practice on the use of weedkillers. So here we summarise the best practice and requirements for safe and selective use for those in the UK who currently use chemical weedkillers.


Requirements for Safe Use of Weedkiller for UK Companies


Weed_Control_Safety_GRITITAt some point you will have considered the alternatives and decided that a pesticide is needed for your grounds. As well as compliance, what steps do you take to ensure your weedkiller use is as effective as possible and that you are keeping any unwanted effects of a pesticide to a minimum?


The leadking weedkillers contain glyphosate and glyphosate is dangerous if not used carefully. If it gets on the skin it can cause irritation and dermatitis. if it is breathed in it can also cause oral and throat discomfort. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis and if it is somehow swallowed it will cause corrosion of the throat and could lead to kidney or liver failure.

In the UK, anyone using a professional pesticide must have a recognised specified certificate (previously known as a ‘Certificate of Competence’. Someone in the business or your contractor needs to be PA qualified and maintain their training (PA1 introduction plus the appropriate equipment use e.g. PA6 for knapsack sprayers).

Larger spraying equipment must all be formally NSTS tested.  Knapsacks, handheld and pedestrian equipment need to be inspected and maintained by a competent person and a formal record kept. 

There are extensive requirements and codes of practices for the storage, preparation and application of pesticides and controlling exposure to pesticides: 

  • Grounds maintenance companies like GRITIT GM are professionally trained in commercial weed management and will be following these practices
  • Professional bodies such as Lantra run comprehensive training programmes on the regulations, risks, safety measures and dealing with incidents
  • The Pesticides – Code of practice governs using plant protection products. (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the National Assembly for Wales Environment, Planning and Countryside Department
  • Additional measures are also in place for public amenities and public rights of ways, and are not covered in this blog( Amenity – Best Practice Using Pesticides in the Community – Crop Protection Association.)
  • The law says all substances that could be hazardous to health are covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). These state that the employer must try to prevent exposure totally. If that is not possible they should control the risk of harm is ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ and a COSHH assessment of risk is carried out for the choice of appropriate pesticide and actions to prevent or control exposure.


What are the Manufacturer Guidelines for Weedkillers and Grounds Maintenance?


The application of the product ALWAYS has to be in line with its approved conditions of use. It should never be spayed in windy conditions or when rain is forecast and animals should be kept clear until it has dried. 

For large scale spraying what is termed as ‘engineering control of operator control’, such as closed cabs, reduces the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In Grounds Maintenance work smaller scale equipment is common where PPE requirements are the main protective measures.

According to the manufacturer of Roundup PPE guidelines are:

  • WEAR SUITABLE PROTECTIVE GLOVES when handling the concentrate and when handling contaminated surfaces.
  • WEAR SUITABLE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING (COVERALLS), SUITABLE PROTECTIVE GLOVES AND RUBBER BOOTS when using hand-held sprayers, hand-held rotary atomisers, weed wiper equipment or spot gun equipment.
  • WASH HANDS AND EXPOSED SKIN before eating and drinking and after work.
  • Do not contaminate water with the product or its container except when used as directed.
  • Do not clean application equipment near surface water. Official Code of Practice entitled "Guidelines for the Use of Herbicides on Weeds in or near Watercourses and Lakes" Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA publications 08459 556000),
  • Avoid contamination via drains from roads.

Additional advisory is for RESPIRATORY PROTECTION with the use of face masks.


Additional Duties of Responsible Companies


All companies need to ensure they are compliant with the regulations, approval procedures and keeping spray records. When using a contractor this includes making sure they have the necessary qualifications and following guidelines. It’s also important they are given full information about your land, including footpaths, watercourse and environmental risk areas and what you do to protect them. Any safety issues need to be highlighted such as dangerous terrain or hidden obstacles.

A key duty is how exposure to weedkillers might affect staff and members of the public. Extra measures would be

  • spraying out of office hours or closing an area for a time if this can’t be done (there is no legal requirement for this today)
  • leave an untreated area next to a neighbouring property or area (the latter ‘buffer’ zone is not a legal requirement but you must not allow spray to drift on to neighbouring property and this is an additional reason why spraying should only take place on still days)
  • Provide advance notice of what and why you are using the product and precautions taken is also good practice.

Consideration should be given to using a dose which is lower than the maximum dose allowed by the product label. Rather than a blanket treatment, plans should also include targeting and applying the product as a spot, patch or varied-dose treatment.

Using widespread weed control at the beginning of the season to ‘blitz’ weeds that have been left since the previous autumn or longer, is not a responsible practice today. Neither is it likely to be cost effective compared to the ‘little and often’ method of grounds maintenance throughout the year.

Using a qualified Grounds Maintenance contractor relieves the business from all the operational duties for weed control and transfers some of the additional responsibilities and costs of doing this inhouse. The business is free to dictate the higher-level business and CSR policies and build an integrated grounds maintenance plan with the right level of weed control in consultation with their suppliers. 

Professional advice can help you decide on the correct weed control product or method at the right time, the appropriate dose for your situation and using it in the right way.




Next time on Glyphosate we look at the pertinent points of the recent history of this complex case of Glyphosate and the latest reaction in the UK to this decision, plus the science and economics of the chemicals and non-chemical methods.

In the meantime read more about Alternative Weed Control.


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