Pesticides are chemicals that are used on plants and crops to keep pests away like unwanted bugs or weeds. As a farm worker, it is very important to understand a few things about your job, how to safely work with pesticides, and how this affects your health, and the health of your family. A few issues you need to know about are: how to apply pesticides safely, the health risks you have working with pesticides, to better understand your employers responsibilities and your rights as a farm worker, the popular beliefs or myths held about pesticides, and finally how you can protect yourself and your family by changing your behavior in small ways to live a healthier lifestyle. You need to know that you can’t always see or smell pesticides, but you must always protect yourself from these harmful chemicals.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protects your safety and health by being required to train you to for how to safely use pesticides at your job. Their training should include: how to safely apply pesticides, the health risks of working with pesticides, signs of pesticide poisoning, and how to reduce the contact you have to pesticides at work.(9) In reality, not all farm workers have been trained by the EPA. If you have not been trained, here is a link to EPA’s materials in English or Spanish to know how to safely handle pesticides and protect your health.
Depending on who your employer, it might be required that they provide “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE) and it is their responsibility to store the gear properly,to clean it, and show you how to correctly use it.(8) It is very important that you know what types of pesticides you use at work, so that you know which type of PPE gear to use and how best dress for your job to protect your health.