Attend and give testimony at the Oregon OSHA hearings on farm workers and pesticide exclusion zones. The public Hearing is Tuesday, December 5th at 6:00 pm in the Carpenter Room at the Medford Library.
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We are very concerned that OSHA’s proposed rule does not require pesticide-free buffer zones to protect the living areas where farm workers and their families sleep, cook, eat and play with their children.
In Oregon, many farm workers live on the work site in what is called labor housing located in the agricultural fields and orchards. Frequently, labor housing consists of small structures resembling shacks – there is no running water, bathroom or kitchen. Workers have to leave the structure to go to cooking, shower and bathroom areas. Windows are often boarded up with cardboard or plywood. Quite often, these are not air-tight structures.
The farm worker labor housing may be as close as 15 ft. to the crops and trees sprayed with pesticides, but their houses are not included in the no-spray Application Exclusion Zone.The issue is the Application Exclusion Zone, an area of 100 ft. from the active spray operation where no worker or other person is allowed to be present due to the likelihood of exposure to pesticide spray or drift. Federal law requires the 100 ft. Application Exclusion Zone. Instead Oregon OSHA is proposing a “Compliance Alternative” to the federal rule. The “Compliance Alternative” as it currently stands, states…
- Farm workers and their families inside the shacks don’t get protection from the Application Exclusion Zone. They have to hide inside their shacks! In other words, Oregon OSHA is excluding farm worker housing from being protected by the Application Exclusion Zone. This is true even if the application is by air blast sprayer, aerial crop duster or helicopter.
- Farm workers and their families have to "evacuate" by walking 150 ft. away from the housing and standing outside when the label requires the handler to use a respirator because the pesticide is so toxic and harmful to breathe.
In both scenarios, farm workers and their families will continue to be exposed because they will come into contact with pesticides that contaminate farm worker housing, the kitchen areas, and bathroom and laundry areas. Also, evacuating 150 ft. to stand outside does nothing to protect people from breathing fumes and vapors drifting from the spray.