Pesticides are a danger to farmworkers and farmers unless they are properly handled.
You should receive training about pesticide safety before you begin work at your farm unless you have received this training within the last three (3) years. If you are mixing or applying pesticides, you should have more training before you begin your work.
You should NEVER be in a field while pesticides are being applied there. Leave the field immediately if chemicals are being applied.
You should NEVER mix or apply chemicals if you are not given protective equipment such as a face mask, goggles, gloves, boots, and, if necessary, a work suit.
- Wear all protective gear you are provided.
- Ask for gear if you aren’t supplied with it.
Long term effects to pesticide exposure include cancer, sterility, memory loss, blindness, and birth defects passed on to children.
Short term effects include nausea, chest pains, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, headaches, skin rashes, muscle spasms, and dizziness.
To protect yourself from both short term and long term effects:
- Do not enter a field after pesticides are sprayed until the recommended time — for most pesticides this is 12-24 hours after spraying but for the most toxic pesticides it is 48 hours after spraying.
- Wash your hands often when working.
- Always wash your hands before eating, smoking or using the toilet.
- Wear gloves whenever possible.
- Wash your work clothes separate from your other clothes to reduce contamination.
If you or one of your co-workers is poisoned by pesticides:
- Get medical help as soon as possible. Call 911.
- Find out the name of the pesticide that was being used. You have the right to ask your boss the name and to write it down.
- Explain to the doctor that you were exposed to this chemical.
The medical expenses should be paid by your employer’s insurance. Even if your employer is not required to have workers compensation insurance under the law, he or she undoubtedly has an insurance policy that will cover your medical bills related to the pesticide exposure.
Please keep in mind that these rules will change in 2017.