Good Government: Protecting Farm Workers from Pesticides

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new safety rules for farm workers:

President Obama has called closing gaps of opportunity a defining challenge of our time. Meeting that challenge means ensuring healthy work environments for all Americans, especially those in our nation’s vulnerable communities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We depend on farmworkers every day to help put the food we eat on America’s dinner tables—and they deserve fair, equitable working standards with strong health and safety protections. With these updates we can protect workers, while at the same time preserve the strong traditions of our family farms and ensure the continued the growth of our agricultural economy.”

“No one should ever have to risk their lives for their livelihoods, but far too many workers, especially those who work in agriculture, face conditions that challenge their health and safety every day,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Workplace illness and injury contribute greatly to economic inequality, and can have a devastating impact on workers and their families. By promoting workplace safety, these provisions will enhance economic security for people struggling to make ends meet and keep more Americans on the job raising the crops that feed the world, and we are proud to support the EPA in this effort.”

One former farmworker’s response:

More from the release:

EPA’s updates reflect extensive stakeholder involvement from federal and state partners and the agricultural community including farmworkers, farmers and industry. These provisions will help ensure farmworkers nationwide receive annual safety training; that children under the age of 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides; and that workers are aware of the protections they are afforded under today’s action and have the tools needed to protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposure.

Additionally, EPA is making significant improvements to the training programs including limiting pesticide exposure to farmworker families. By better protecting our agricultural workers, the agency anticipates fewer pesticide exposure incidents among farmworkers and their family members. Fewer incidents means a healthier workforce and avoiding lost wages and medical bills.

EPA Fact Sheet: Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

EPA’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The WPS offers occupational protections to over 2 million agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply crop pesticides) who work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments (farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses). en español

The WPS requires that owners and employers on agricultural establishments:

– Provide protections to workers and handlers from potential pesticide exposure.
– Train them about pesticide safety.
– Provide mitigations in case exposures may occur.

(More information available at the link.

Good government is no accident – it takes dedicated public servants working to make life better for all of us.



  1. Good government requires dedicated public servants working to make life better for all of us.

    Right now, there is only one party interested in governing … and only one party interested in working to make life better for all of us.

    Vote in 2016 as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

  2. More EPA News: Refineries must monitor air quality in nearby communities

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday released its first-ever rule requiring petroleum refineries to monitor air pollution in surrounding residential communities — a move that could lower the cancer risk from toxic emissions for more than one million Americans.

    Levels of air pollutants including benzene, a known human carcinogen, are often higher in areas near oil refineries. They can cause respiratory problems and other serious health issues and are seen as a factor in the increased risk of cancer, according to an EPA statement announcing the new requirement.

    Firms will be required to monitor emissions in so-called ‘fence-line’ zones — areas near heavy industry and deemed to be at highest risk from accidents. Such areas are often disproportionately poor and with a higher proportion of residents from minority communities.

    “These updated Clean Air Act standards will lower the cancer risk from petroleum refineries for more than 1.4 million people and are a substantial step forward in EPA’s work to protect the health of vulnerable communities located near these facilities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in the release.

  3. More Good Government EPA News: EPA Rule Aims To Curb Toxic Coal Plant Pollution In Waterways

    The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday aimed at curbing the amount of pollution that power plants dump into streams.

    The rule, known as the Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines, targets steam electric power plants — plants that use steam to drive the electric generator — that dump large amounts of toxic pollutants into streams every year. The rule, according to the EPA, marks the first time the federal government has set limits on the amount of toxic metals that power plants can discharge into streams. The EPA estimates that the rule will keep 1.4 billion pounds of toxic metals and other pollutants out of waterways each year.

    According to the EPA, electric plants dump 64,400 pounds of lead, 2,820 pounds of mercury, 79,200 pounds of arsenic, and 1,970,000 pounds of aluminum into the country’s waterways every year. As the agency points out, that’s bad news for environmental health and for the health of people who depend on these streams for drinking water. Some of these pollutants, including arsenic, are known carcinogens, while others, such as lead, have been linked to developmental and reproductive problems. This pollution has also been linked to fish die-offs, according to the EPA.

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