Pesticide Safety Training and Access to Field Sanitation among Migrant Farmworker Mothers from Starr County, Texas

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Bolin, Jane N.;
  • Burau, Keith D.;
  • Cooper, Sharon P.;
  • Shipp, Eva M.


Very little published research describes employer compliance with EPA-mandated Worker Protection Standard (WPS) pesticide safety training and the OSHA Field Sanitation Standard among farmworker women in general and mothers specifically. A goal of both standards is limiting farmworkers' exposure to potentially hazardous agricultural pesticides. Data from a NIOSH-supported cohort study (“Injury and Illness Surveillance in Migrant Farmworker Families”) allowed for examining these issues. The cohort included 267 migrant farmworker families who usually reside along the Texas-Mexico border (Starr County, Texas). Data were collected in Starr County during in-home interviews. Of 102 mothers who participated in migrant farm work during summer 2001, 57 (55.9%) reported having ever received training/instruction in the safe use of pesticides, while 47 (46.1%) reported having received training within the previous five years, as required by WPS. Of trained mothers, 91.5% to 93.6% reported that their training covered key WPS areas: (1) entry into a recently treated field, (2) pesticide related injuries/illnesses, and (3) where to go and who to contact for emergency care following exposure. Regarding access to field sanitation, 67.5% to 84.2% of 77 mothers who worked outside Texas reported employer-provided decontamination supplies (e.g., soap, wash water, towels, and toilet facilities). However, a strikingly smaller proportion (12% to 28%) of 25 mothers who worked within Texas reported access to the same resources, suggesting discrepancies in compliance across the U.S. Due to the low level of employer compliance with both WPS and OSHA mandated standards, increased enforcement and an alternate delivery of pesticide training is recommended.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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