Susan Bauer, Hilda O. Bogue, Victoria Booker, Lorraine Cameron, Nina Lalich, Steven J. Samuels, Andrea L. Steege
Little is known about the magnitude of occupational health problems among migrant farm workers. A community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted in two migrant farm worker communities: Homestead, Florida, and Kankakee, Illinois. Camp Health Aides (CHAs) interviewed 425 workers about job tasks, personal protective equipment (PPE), field sanitation, work exposures, and selected health conditions. Limited provision of personal protective equipment was reported among those reporting early re-entry tasks: 35% in Kankakee and 42% in Homestead were provided gloves, and 22% in Homestead and 0% in Kankakee were provided protective clothing. About two-thirds were provided toilet facilities and water for hand-washing. Workers reported high prevalences of health conditions consistent with exposure to ergonomic hazards and pesticides. The prevalence of back pain in the past 12 months was 39% in Homestead and 24% in Kankakee. Among Homestead participants, 35% experienced eye symptoms, while 31% reported skin symptoms. These symptoms were less prevalent among Kankakee participants (16% for both eye and skin symptoms). Specific areas of concern included back pain associated with heavy lifting and ladder work; eye and skin irritation associated with fertilizer application tasks and with working in fields during or after spraying of chemicals, especially early re-entry of sprayed fields; and skin irritation associated with a lack of access to hand-washing facilities. In both Kankakee and Homestead, better adherence to safety standards is needed, as well as greater efforts to implement solutions that are available to help prevent work-related musculoskeletal problems.
Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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Reviewed for NASD: 08/2009