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Washington state ag department issues corrective action to Applebee Aviation

Washington Department of Agriculture issued a notice of correction to Applebee Aviation and former Applebee employee Kevin Vanderlei last week after an investigation into a claim that Vanderlei was exposed to pesticides last July.

Vanderlei’s claim indicated he was exposed to pesticide mixtures for a two-week period in July 2015 from leaking nozzles on a helicopter while working as a mixer-loader for Applebee Aviation.

At the time, Applebee was doing applications for the Washington Department of Natural Resources and flying out of Chehalis, Wash. Applebee’s contract with Washington DNR included treating 2,100 acres in seven counties with aerial herbicides.

According to the investigation report, Vanderlei claimed he was exposed to pesticides by leaky nozzles dripping pesticides on him for a two-week period. “He said he had red spots and crusty lesions on his back where the spray mixture contacted him,” the report says.

Employees from the DNR interviewed during the investigation said they had not witnessed any leaking nozzles, but said Vanderlei had worn glasses instead of the required safety goggles while handing pesticides. Vanderlei’s claim said he went to two different emergency rooms as a result of the exposure, but no medical records were submitted for the investigation.

The notice of correction, according to a letter sent to Applebee Aviation owner Mike Applebee, “is not a formal enforcement action, is not subject to appeal, and is a public record.” Applebee must ensure all pesticide handlers wear safety gear according to product labeling on the pesticide in use; make sure handlers use pesticides consistent with product labeling; and ensure that anyone supervising pesticide handlers require the handlers to wear proper safety gear.

Vanderlei’s notice of correction required him as an individual to wear proper safety gear while handing pesticides and to follow all directions on pesticide labels.

Applebee and Vanderlei are required to fill out and return a compliance form to the agriculture department indicating corrective action has been taken. There is no monetary civil penalty attached to the notice of correction.

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