Take Action to Protect Farmworkers!

EPA is proposing changes to the Worker Protection Standard. NESAWG's longstanding partner, CATA - a farmworker support organization - wants to make sure these changes actually minimize agricultural workers’ risk and exposure to pesticides. In order for the proposed changes to be effective, responsible government agencies must have the capacity to enforce meaningful regulations and employers must also be held accountable for their actions.

Right now, you can submit your comments to the EPA, telling them how to make these standards more effective and protective of workers. The comment period for the proposed changes is until August 18, 2014. CATA is suggesting the following recommendations for the proposed rule:

  1. CATA opposes the removal of the central display requirement for posting application-specific information of pesticides, which will force farmworkers and their representatives to submit requests to employers. Central displays should be made more available, not less!
  2. According to the proposed rule, field warning signs are required to be posted for treated areas when Restricted-Entry Interval (REI) is greater than 48 hours. CATA feels, regardless of the timeframe, field warning signs should be posted for all REIs so workers are always aware of when they are able to enter a field without the risk of more contamination.
  3. Sixteen is not an acceptable minimum age for handlers or early entry workers. This minimum age requirement does not adequately protect children who are still developing. The minimum age should be at least 18.
  4. Early entry worker exceptions would create loopholes in the proposed rule. No farmworker should have to enter a field before the REI is up and risk being exposed more directly to recently sprayed pesticides. 

CATA states that the most important part in the implementation of these standards is enforcement. Not only does the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) need to be stronger, it also needs to be enforced better.  CATA recommends allocating more funds to enforcement agencies to increase their capacity. There should be an increase in the number of surprise and random inspections on farms and inspectors must be bilingual and able to speak Spanish and Creole. Enforcement agencies should work closely with community-based farmworker organizations in ensuring farmworker safety. Also, fines should be increased in order to discourage noncompliance. It is important to include these points about the necessity of tougher enforcement in your comments.

To Submit Your Comments

Go to: www.regulations.gov

Search for the ID #: EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0184

Choose: Agricultural Worker Protection Standard Revisions: Pesticides 

Click on “Comment Now,” a blue box on the upper right-hand side of the page

Enter your Comments and submit

Email catanj@aol.com to let us know when you have submitted comments