Safety is a Must!

By Lina Younes

This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week. EPA and its partners work together to create awareness among farmworkers and their families about the importance of being safe in rural communities around the farm, nurseries, and greenhouses. The Agency collaborates with federal, state, and non-profit agencies and associations in the implementation of the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard in order to reduce risks of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers, pesticide handlers and their families as well. Partners such as the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs and the Migrant Clinicians Network focus on providing training on the proper handling of pesticides and health concerns of farmworkers and their families. Training and outreach tools have been developed in English, Spanish, and other languages to ensure that farmworkers receive the proper information regardless of their native language.

In fact, one of the creative outreach tools developed through EPA’s sponsorship was the educational play for farmworkers and their families entitled “El Moscas y los pesticidas” (Flies and Pesticides) EPA’s Region VI office led the effort and the pesticide awareness play was performed at community events in Texas, New Mexico, and Washington State.

So, what are some tips to protect individuals who work in agricultural fields, nurseries, and greenhouses as well as their families from pesticide exposure?

  • Close windows of houses near fields during and after spraying.
  • Don’t eat fruit or vegetables directly from the field.
  • Always wash fruit and vegetables in clean water before eating.
  • Keep children away from where pesticides may be and store them out of their reach.
  • For the farmworker, pesticides may get on your clothes or body. Wash your clothes separately from the family laundry.
  • After work, shower or wash your body with soap and water. Shampoo your hair and then put on clean clothes.
  • Leave your work shoes or boots outside the house in order not to bring pesticide residues inside.
  • Don’t use agricultural pesticides in your home.
  • If pesticides get on your skin, wash it right away.
  • While working in a greenhouse or enclosed area, if you feel dizzy or sick, get out to an open area to breathe fresh air.

More information on agricultural worker safety and training is available on our website. To the farmworkers, thank you for the work you do.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA.