TWO OF Australia's major farm merchandise businesses, Elders and Nutrien, have warned customers of the dangers of using farm chemicals in contradiction to label instructions.
The issue has come to a head this month with reports of residents in Central West NSW, in the midst of a horror mouse plague, used the agricultural rodenticide MouseOff inside their houses and were then poisoned by the gases the product released.
Elders representatives said the company was saddened to hear reports that the inappropriate use of mouse bait has resulted in illnesses and said it served as a wake-up call to use chemicals in accordance with the label.
Elders safety and risk business partner Al Smyth said the incidents showed farmers they needed to treat farm chemicals with respect.
"While Elders did not supply the bait to those affected, we are treating the incident as an opportunity to remind our staff members and clients just how important it is to use and handle the product in line with the manufacturer's instructions," Mr Smyth said.
"With extensive regions plagued by mice, pesticides are essential for agricultural production but they are powerful chemicals that demand respect," he said.
A Nutrien spokesperson said their company was concerned at the reports.
"Nutrien Ag Solutions is committed to the care and safety of our people, environment, communities and customers, so it was very concerning to hear members of the public have potentially used MouseOff incorrectly despite the product being sold for agriculture purposes only," the spokesperson said.
The company has contacted its customers and reiterated the need to adhere to safety protocols.
"We have since issued an urgent letter to our customers in the region who recently purchased the product to remind them that it is a dangerous poison which must be used safely in accordance with the approved label, we also attached a copy of the Safety Data Sheet for MouseOff," the spokesperson said.
"If anyone has any questions about the correct application of MouseOff, please do not hesitate to get in contact with your local Nutrien Ag Solutions branch for more information."
Mr Smyth said MouseOff users required qualifications.
Under the NSW Pesticides Act 1999, anyone who uses pesticides in their job or business must be trained and hold a valid licence.
Also, under the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011, anyone who uses hazardous chemicals must be trained.
In most cases in NSW, the training is evident through a Chemcert (or equivalent) users' card, which is valid for 5 years.
He said there was extensive internal training regarding the correct use of farm chemicals.
"Elders staff members are trained not to decant, open packs to split the ingredients for sale, or sell part containers of any hazardous chemicals so that the all the user information is supplied with the product," he said.
When selling an S7 product, he said Elders collects the buyer's details for tracking in the event of an emergency, note the intended use, and supply the safety data sheet to again reinforce the appropriate handling and use of the pesticide.