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How to Limit Exposures to Pesticides and Hazardous Chemicals Outdoors

July 25, 2018

Many younger workers are exposed to the workforce through a variety of seasonal jobs taking place in warm weather. These largely outdoor jobs in a variety of fields, including landscaping and farming, offer the unique benefit of full shifts in the sunshine and warm summer weather. However, the unique work environment for many seasonal summer jobs is not free from potential hazards, especially pesticides.

In warmer weather, many employees, especially those employed seasonally at outdoor jobs, are at risk of exposure to pesticides or other hazardous chemicals. Jobs in landscaping, farming, at nurseries, in the environmental field or facilities management offer good outdoor work, but potentially expose workers to hazardous chemicals.

Pesticides are chemicals that kill or control insects, weeds, and fungi. An industry hazard, they can irritate the skin, affect the nervous and reproductive systems and, in some cases, cause cancer. The chemicals can enter the body through direct contact with skin and clothes, breathing pesticides – containing mist, dust, fumes or smoke; or by ingesting food before sanitizing hands and facial areas.

While the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulating pesticides, the Occupational Safety Health Administration oversees employee safety matters and requires employers to communicate and protect workers from hazardous chemical exposure.

Protect your employees from pesticides

To limit employee exposure to pesticides and other hazardous chemicals, follow these tips from the EPA and OSHA:

  • Keep workers out of areas recently treated with pesticides
  • Provide protective equipment-rubber gloves, splash-proof eye protection, and respirators
  • Maintain access to a sufficient supply of water, soap, towels and emergency decontamination and eyewash systems
  • Ensure transportation is available to a medical care facility in case of a pesticide injury or poisoning and provide information about the pesticide(s) to which the person may have been exposed
  • Make sure all employees follow directions and signs about keeping out of restricted areas
  • Encourage washing exposed body parts prior to eating, drinking, using tobacco, or the toilet
  • Employees working near pesticides should wear long sleeves, pants, shoes, socks and a hat or scarf
  • Encourage employees to wash work clothes separate from other clothing
  • Employees who may have had exposure, even briefly, should shower, wash their hair and put on clean clothes after work

Additionally, child labor laws forbid the handling of certain classes and types of chemicals or pesticides by minors – specific state laws may be even more stringent. Consult specific state child labor laws or contact AccessPoint if you have any questions.

Protecting your workers from hazards such as chemicals and pesticides is a must to make sure they stay healthy, safe and productive throughout the summer. Sharing these tips and encouraging employees to practice proper safety methods will help your seasonal summer staff have a positive experience.

INSIGHT WRITTEN BY:
Scott Vandenbosch