Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its newly proposed Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to safeguard the health of agricultural workers exposed to pesticides. Grijalva led a letter signed by 51 of his colleaguesto EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Feb. 6 urging the agency to move forward with needed reforms.
The WPS has not had a meaningful update in more than 20 years. Farmworkers are the only group of American workers not covered by a federal right-to-know regulation that requires employees to be informed of the health effects of specific chemicals they encounter at work.
As the Grijalva letter notes, “Every year, an estimated 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to agricultural crops in the United States. According to the EPA, ten to twenty thousand farmworkers suffer pesticide poisoning annually. To promote the health of rural communities and those who harvest the food for our constituents’ tables, strong protections from pesticide exposure are urgently needed.”
Grijalva said the newly announced changes – including a first-time minimum age of 16 for employees at most farms, improved worker awareness and training efforts, and mandated bilingual signage – will all contribute to a safer work environment. You can read all about the new proposal at http://1.usa.gov/1e0dnIF.
“Workers need adequate information and protection when they’re working with dangerous chemicals,” Grijalva said. “These rules are important steps forward for the industry and will make our workforce healthier and safer. There’s no reason to want a rule any weaker than the one EPA is proposing, and I look forward to a strong final product.”