STICK TO pesticide guidelines or face conviction, the Health and Safety Executive has warned growers.

Convictions were secured against all eight cases that went to court last year, with an average fine of £1,824, according to the latest Pesticides Incident Report.

“The case studies in this report clearly show that inspectors are prepared to prosecute without prior warning when serious contraventions are discovered,” said the HSE‘s Roger Nourish.

In the year to Mar 31 2004, the HSE investigated a total of 215 complaints on the use of pesticides – 11 down on the previous year.

Of these, only one had a ‘confirmed‘ link to pesticide exposure and 14 had a likely link, either involving members of the public or those incidentally exposed while at work.

Allegations from the public that spraying had taken place in adverse weather and/or failure to notify neighbours of an intended application featured prominently in the report.

“Our investigations often reveal wholly unacceptable arrangements for the storage of pesticides,” Dr Nourish added.

“So make sure that all pesticides are kept in a suitable secure store.”

After a general fall between 1995 and 2000/01, the number of allegations of ill health has now reached something of a plateau at about 60 cases per year, he also noted.

The report and guidance notes for pesticide users are available at www.hse.gov.uk.