Farmers must protect the health and safety of all employees by minimizing exposure to pesticides, other harmful agricultural inputs, or other workplace hazards. This is federal law under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The “General Duty Clause” of this law requires employers to provide workplaces that are “free from recognized hazards” that could cause “death or serious physical harm.”
Because OSHA is underfunded and enforcement is lacking, AJP standards also require that farm employers provide safe working conditions (Standard 3.5), thus providing another layer of oversight for workplace safety and another venue for employee complaints and redress.
The farmer is responsible for maintaining a safe workplace with adequate safety equipment that is well-maintained and safely stored. All equipment, electrical wiring, and vehicles must be safe, in compliance with legal requirements and regularly inspected. Farmers must not pressure workers to work under dangerous conditions or to lift loads beyond their physical capacity. Work and work spaces should be designed to avoid damaging workers’ bodies from repetitive motion or awkward postures. Pesticides and all other hazardous materials must be labeled, safety stored and used according to all label instructions.
Workers must have access to adequate medical care, and if a workplace injury or accident occurs, the farmer is responsible for providing transportation to medical care or for making sure medical assistance arrives in a timely fashion. Standard 3.5.3.
Farmers must allow adequate breaks for rest, for drinking water and for the use of sanitation facilities, and enforce legally required breaks. Farmers must prevent heat and cold related exposure. Standard 3.5.4.
If a farm has an unusually high rate of injuries, the farmer must develop a comprehensive plant to lower the accident rate, and commit to reducing the injury and accident rate. Standards 3.5.5. and 6.
Workers have the right to full information about all hazardous materials used on the farm and hazards to which they may be exposed such as dust, wind, heat, cold and dangerous weather conditions. Standard 3.5.8.
Health and Safety
The Employer will always seek to use the least toxic method and substances in all production and other practices, such as pest control.
The Employer shall provide a safe and healthy workplace and shall comply with all requirements of state and federal law in relationship thereto.
Employees shall promptly report injuries and hazards of which they are aware to their supervisor.
Supervisors shall promptly report injuries and hazards of which they are aware to their Manager, who shall make a record of the report and verify responsive actions taken.
The Employer shall provide required personal protective equipment and any appropriate and/or required training.
The Employer shall provide necessary and appropriate on site medical treatment or access to off site treatment if employees suffer a work-related injury or illness. Where feasible, this would include arranging transportation for initial off site medical treatment.
The Employer shall assist in arranging transportation to Workers’ Compensation panel doctors for employees with Workers’ Compensation cases and without access to such transportation.
The Employer will establish a Health and Safety Committee. Meetings shall be conducted in English and Spanish (or other appropriate language), so as to allow active participation by all employees. On small-scale farms the Employer may choose instead to discuss health and safety issues during general meetings with all employees, so long as such meetings take place regularly.
Employees shall have access to Material Safety Data Sheets for each chemical used or stored on the farm.
For many resources supporting a health and safety program at your workplace, see the full Health & Safety section.