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Safe Use and Hand Held Applicator

Pesticides: Services

Classroom, Planned visit (where possible) & Practical Workshop

Duration: Safe Use (Foundation Module) - one day including planned visit
Hand Held Applicator - generally one day, can be extended to 2 days for in-company courses, depending on experience.

Legislation requires that people using pesticides must have received adequate instruction, and in certain circumstances must undergo assessment and acquire a certificate of competence.

This course is designed to comply with the new code of practice specifying the knowledge and skills required of a competent operator.

The course is designed for all those involved with the storage, handling and application of pesticides using hand held applicators (knapsack sprayers). The course requires reading and interpretation of written material, plus numeracy in order to calculate callibrations.

The courses support learning towards achievement of a FEPA Certificate of Competence for the Foundation module (PA1) and Hand Held Applicator (PA6A). Trainees are encouraged to read through the literature provided on the course, and practice their skills in the company of a qualified work colleague. Attending the training course does not guarantee that candidates will pass first time!


Day 1 Safe Use:

Current legislation
Interpreting labels & literature
Personal hygiene
Selecting and using protective clothing
Preparing pesticides for use
Storing pesticides
Transport and temporary storage of pesticides
Disposing of empty containers, surplus unused pesticides and washings
Dealing with accidental contamination of people
Keeping records
Environmental factors

Day 2 Hand Held Applicator:

General safety
Preparing the sprayer and checking components
Calibrating the hand held sprayer
Operating the hand held sprayer
Decontamination of sprayer and protective clothing
Out of season maintenance

We recommend that all candidates read through their notes and handouts prior to the tests, and if possible undertake supervised practice.

Venue & Equipment

Trainee needs to bring:
For Day 1: Notebook, pencil and calculator
For Day 2: Steel tape measures (2m and 10m long), calculator
Protective clothing for use with pesticides, including respirator, face shield, nitrile gloves, nitrile or neoprene apron, coverall
One sprayer for each trainee if possible, else one between two. This must be watertight and clean.
Spare filters/nozzles etc.
Large 2 litre jug and a calibration jug with 5 and 10ml measurements
Stopwatch/watch for timing in seconds
Marking out materials for measured areas – sticks, strips or cones
Instruction books for all sprayers
2 x passport photographs to be signed by the instructor
Cheque payable to NPTC test centre (specified in joining instructions) for test fees.

Venue Requirements
Day 1: Warm, well lit room with adequate tables and chairs, plus a white wall or screen for projecting onto and access to electricity. Facilities for making refreshments. Toilets and washing facilities.
Mains water supply & drain
Pesticides store close to course venue
For days 2 & 3: as above, plus building or yard with large clean concrete floor, and suitable work area outside, e.g. grass, where water can be sprayed.

FEPA Tests:

Either prior to or during the PA1 training course, candidates will complete a National Proficiency Test Council (NPTC) Test registration form. Registration costs £41.50, which is added to the course fee. The registration forms are then usually sent to a local test centre. A cheque payable to the test centre for the test fee should be included with the application forms.

PA1 Testing

As of 1 January 2006, the PA1 Foundation module is a computer-based assessment using the City & Guilds GOLA system. Depending on location, candidates may either visit a college with such a computer testing facility, or an invigilator may bring the test to the candidate downloaded onto a laptop. Candidates must be registered for assessment at least 48 hours prior to the test being available.

The test is multiple choice with 32 questions. Candidates will need to get a minimum of 24 correct answers (equating to 75% pass rate), which must include a minimum of one question correctly answered in each of the 7 sections.

Candidates are given a 10 minute tutorial in how to navigate the GOLA screens and the function of all the buttons, which is prior to the start of the test. The test itself is 1 hour in duration. Candidates can apply for 25% extra time (15 minutes) to allow for dyslexia or other mitigating circumstances. This special dispensation must be requested 2 weeks before the test to allow time for the approval process.

The successful achievement of PA1 is a pre-requisite for any of the application modules.
Once candidates have been successful in PA1 they can take the test for PA6a. This is a practical test and candidates will need to bring all the equipment listed above as for the training. 

After a successful test, the form is sent to the NPTC at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, who issue the certificate of competence/identity card. Certificates are always returned to the individuals, NOT the employer. You can, however, ask NPTC to inform employers when certificates are issued.

CAREFUL MONITORING IS REQUIRED for test application and later receipt of the certificate. To ensure the procedure is followed may need tight control. Some employers find that if left to the individual, schedules are lost, certificates are not always applied for, or are not seen and copied for Health & Safety records.

If further help is required please contact the local test centre for advice.

Alternatively, let the Training Group arrange your tests for you. This is a service offered by the Group at no additional cost to members. Test fees will be charged at the current rate of the test centre used.


At present (June 2019) PA1/PA6 combined Pesticide Courses cost £260. This includes 2 days training, arrangement of the PA1 test, and also PA6 test if required. In-company course costs can be quoted on application. LTG course fees are exclusive of VAT.

Please note that NPTC registration and tests are not included in the course fee and are payable in advance. Please allow £120 for PA1 and £145 for PA6a when calculating the full cost of your program fees. The total for PA1 and PA6 and tests combined, is £525 + VAT.

The National Proficiency Test Council is based at The National Agricultural Centre at Kenilworth, Warwickshire, on 02476 857300.
Further information about the NPTC and qualifications can be found on 

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