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.
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