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Farm workers at risk, but new standards on the way

According to studies, exposure to pesticides is a risk for farm worker safety. A collaboration among government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health, is tracking 90,000 people in two states to determine long-term risks associated with pesticide exposure. One of those states is North Carolina.

Reports also indicate that up to 3,000 worker injuries or illnesses reported annually are related to pesticide exposure. Those incidents occur in a variety of agricultural jobs, including farming, nursery and greenhouse work and forestry. The EPA reports that it is also concerned that reports are low because they don't include dangers associated with long-term exposure to low amounts of pesticide.

Workers are exposed to pesticides through a number of activities, including planting, picking and other field work. They might also mix and distribute pesticides.

To better protect workers, the new standards require additional training for those who will use pesticides. They also require that people under 18 do not handle pesticides at all and that signage indicate when fields are being treated with pesticides that might be hazardous.

While these new standards are a great step toward better safety for farm and agricultural workers, they won't be able to reduce injuries and issues to zero percent. Accidents and errors do happen. If you or someone you know was injured or made ill by such an incident, then you might have a right to compensation under a workers' compensation plan.

Understanding when a workers' compensation plan covers your losses is important, and so is knowing how to file for all available compensation. Working with someone who knows the system can help you avoid additional stress and delays in compensation.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. strengthens rules to protect farm workers from pesticides," Carey Gillam, Reuters, Sep. 28, 2015

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