The law prescribes minimum standards for farmworker health and safety.

There are laws about field sanitation that provide farmworkers with the right to accessible drinking water, toilets, and sinks.  Every employer with more than 11 farmworkers working in the field for more than 3 hours at a time must provide the following with a quarter mile of the field:

  • Cool drinking water and cups for each person, or a drinking fountain
  • Toilets and handwashing facilities.

In terms of housing, persons who own or control housing for farmworkers must ensure that certain housing standards are met.  These standards include:

  • structurally sound housing
  • housing free from insects and rodents
  • beds for each person at least 3 feet apart and 12 inches off the floor
  • lights that work and safe electrical wiring
  • sanitary toilets
  • safe drinking water and showers with a sufficient amount of hot and cold water
  • garbage collected at least twice a week

These standards are applied even if farmworkers are housed in a hotel.

The use of pesticides is also common in Georgia agriculture.  Pesticides are chemical poisons sprayed on crops to kill insects and weeds.  If you are working on a farm where pesticides have been sprayed within the last month, you must be given a pesticide safety training during your first week of work.  Your employer must also post a list of all the pesticides used on the farm.   The list must be posted in a central location where farmworkers can see it, and must contain the name of the chemical, the date and location where the pesticide will be sprayed, and the amount of time the workers have to stay out of the field after it has been sprayed.  When it is possible that workers may enter an area that has been sprayed, employers must either post a warning sign or advise workers verbally.

If you think you have been exposed to pesticides, you should:

  • Immediately contact a doctor or clinic for treatment;
  • Tell the doctor or nurse that you were exposed to pesticides;
  • Tell the doctor or nurse the name of the farm or company; and
  • Put the clothes you were wearing in an air-tight plastic bag and take them with you to the doctor so that they can test what kind of chemicals you were exposed to.

If you think you have been exposed to pesticides, you should tell your employer.  The employer must provide you with transportation to a medical clinic and must give pesticide information to the medical worker.  You should also contact our office at 1.800.537.7496.  If workers get sick because of pesticide exposure, a court can award compensation because of their exposure.

 

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