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Enforcement in Action - Agricultural Worker Safety Initiative

Agricultural Worker Safety Initiative

A targeted, three-day inspection of 58 agricultural sites was conducted from July 30 to August 1, 2002. Inspectors checked for such requirements as adequate training and protective equipment for workers, and examined areas of chemical storage. The inspections also included a review of records regarding the time and location of pesticide applications. The purpose of this inspection initiative was to enforce pesticide regulations and help ensure farm worker safety within Cumberland, Gloucester and Atlantic counties. This directed effort, which was conducted during the prime agricultural season, is the first concentrated effort organized by the Department. Federal Environmental Protection Agency inspectors joined the Department’s enforcement team as observers.

Under the federal Worker Protection Standards (WPS) agricultural employers are required to provide pesticide safety training for workers (people performing hand labor in the field) and handlers (people mixing, loading, or applying pesticides) in a language the employees understand. Farm owners must ensure on-site access to pesticide safety information - including a posted list of current pesticide treatments on the property. In addition, farm owners must provide workers protective clothing, an ample supply of water, soap and towels for decontamination and routine washing, and emergency assistance/transportation if poisoned or injured through pesticide exposure. Owners are required to distribute educational pamphlets and pesticide fact sheets (available through the Department) to workers as part of an employee orientation or annual employee training session.

Farm WorkersThe Department conducts approximately 200 farm inspections annually for compliance with pesticide regulations. Approximately 40,000 farm workers are employed in New Jersey, including those who live in migrant camps on farms and "day-haulers" who commute from cities daily and are transported on buses by crew leaders.

With the assistance of two bilingual inspectors from the Pesticide Control Program, the Department’s enforcement team conducted on-site interviews with farm workers to measure the effectiveness of current regulations and gain first-hand information about potentially unidentified exposure risks that may be experienced during daily operations. Inspectors also provided on-site safety instruction to assist farm owners with compliance where necessary.

Inspectors issued NOVs to 41 of the 58 farms inspected. The 41 farms in violation represented a wide range of compliance problems- from minor record keeping to more serious issues such as a lack of safety training and decontamination supplies. On 31 of the farms, workers were interviewed, and on 5 farms pesticide handlers were interviewed to gain their perspective on safety measures in place. Information collected during these interviews will be compared to what the inspection revealed. A report summarizing the Department's findings and recommendations will be published and distributed to farm-related organizations, and posted on this website.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2014
Department of Environmental Protection
Mail Code 401-04B
P. O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

Last Modified: June 11, 2014

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