The point of view of the Farmworker Justice organization is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took important steps last week to revise protections for farmworkers exposed to pesticides.

Farmworker Justice was one of the first, if not the first, announcing submission of an updated Worker Protection Standard to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for review.

The statement from Farmworker Justice was as follows: “Recognizing the health and safety needs of thousands of workers, Farmworker Justice and other advocacy groups launched an effort this summer to educate legislators and the EPA about the dangers farmworkers face. Workers visited with policy makers and Farmworker Justice released a report outlining the serious health risks produced by pesticide exposure. After years of pushing the agency to strengthen worker protections, these organizations hope that EPA’s recent efforts will improve worker health and safety.”

Virginia Ruiz, director of occupational and environmental health at Farmworker Justice, claims, “Each year pesticide exposure poisons tens of thousands of farmworkers and their families, leading to injury, illness, and death.”

The amount of poisoning from proper use according to product labels is not to the degree that Farmworker Justice and other advocates claim, according to the agricultural crop protection industry. The need for more regulations has been questioned, and following existing rules in handling, application and field re-entry is seen to be covered in the current labels.

“Farmworker advocates are hopeful that EPA’s proposal will include important safeguards for how workers are notified about the chemical hazards they are exposed to, and their right to a safe workplace. The EPA should improve requirements to provide pesticide safety training and effective protective equipment to workers,” Farmworker Justice further claimed in its news release.

“Now that the regulation is at OMB, we hope that they will quickly review it and allow the rulemaking process to move forward.  The public should have an opportunity to review and comment on this important public health issue,” said Ruiz.

Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety and access to justice.