Pesticides and Herbicides

Purpose of this policy

To ensure that all risks associated with the use of hazardous substances in government schools are safely controlled and managed.

Prerequisite policy


Principals must ensure:

  • compliance with the Chemical Management Procedure
  • appropriate application of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.


This table describes when school councils should schedule the application of pesticides and herbicides.

For application of

Pesticides work to occur:
  • on weekends
  • during school vacations.
Herbicides spraying to occur:
  • on weekends
  • during school vacations
  • outside school hours, preferably after school on Fridays, to protect students and staff from unnecessary exposure
  • on still days.

Herbicides and weed control

Schools should only use:

  • licensed operators for application of the following pesticides: 2; 4-D; Paraquat and Diquat
  • trained operators for application of all pesticides
  • registered herbicides for the weeds requiring control. For restricted non-schedule 7 agricultural chemicals see: Department of Primary Industries.

The operator must ensure that:

  • the herbicide spray does not drift onto non-target areas
  • spray unit is thoroughly rinsed between applications to avoid contamination with a pesticide
  • special care is taken when spraying near ponds, fish tanks and so on.


It may at times be necessary to use pesticides when other measures (hand removal or water jets) fail. These pesticides should only be used in accordance with the label and the pest should be clearly identified to ensure correct control measures. Schools should only use appropriately registered pesticides.

This table describes recommended insecticides.

Name Description and Use
Pyrethroids Obtained from the dried flowers of some chrysanthemum species and effective against a wide range of insects, including:
  • aphids
  • caterpillars
  • bugs.
Important: Pyrethoids are plant products that may cause allergic reactions.
Synthetic pyrethroids Man-made analogs of natural pyrethroids designed for longer life or improved control.  All registered synthetic pyrethroids are safe if used according to the label.
Garlic spray Can be applied with a mild detergent and is effective against caterpillars and sucking insects.
White oil Useful against scale, mealy bugs and aphids.  Can sometimes be mixed with pyrethroids and synthetic pyrethroids to increase its effectiveness against a wide range of pests. Check the labels to determine whether this can be done.
Derris (Rotenone) As it is a stomach poison, it is effective against chewing pests.
Soap flakes spray Occasionally useful in the control of some caterpillars and other larvae.

Note: Any pesticides registered for use in domestic premises can be safely used in schools.  Some pesticides are best left to licensed pest control technicians, for example termiticides.  For information on termiticides see: Protocol for Use of Termiticides in Schools 2006 within Department resources.

Related policies

Related legislation, regulations and standards

  • AS 1319 - Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment
  • AS 1345 - Identification of the Contents of Piping, Conduits and Ducts
  • Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods 2013
  • Dangerous Goods Act 1985
  • Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012
  • Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 

Department resources

For more information see:

Advice may also be obtained from the Department’s:

For more information and advice contact:

  • Environment Protection Agency ph 1300 372 842
  • Radiation Safety Section, Department of Human Services ph 1300 767 469.