How Does the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Protect Agricultural Workers?
Agricultural work can be rough on the body, not only because of the physical labor involved but also because of the dangerous chemicals used in farm work. Many pesticides commercial farms use to protect crops are dangerous to workers, so the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to prevent and reduce pesticide-related farming injuries. And if your employer punishes or mistreats you for asserting your rights under WPS regulations, you could have the option to file a retaliation complaint.
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What Protections Does the Worker Protection Standard Provide?
How can the Worker Protection Standard protect agricultural workers? The WPS protects farming employees by reducing exposure to pesticides, providing easy access to medical care, and giving workers detailed information about the chemicals present in their workplace. Under the WPS, farm owners and employers must do the following:
- Educate their employees about the pesticides in their workspace — there are several ways an employer must inform its farm workers about pesticides, including holding yearly safety training sessions; notifying employees about what pesticides are used at the workplace, when they are used, and where they are used; and providing safety and hazard information about the pesticides the employer uses.
- Prevent employees from entering recently treated areas — pesticides have restricted entry intervals (REIs), which means that humans typically cannot come in contact with a pesticide-treated area for an extended period of time (e.g., 12 hours or more), and employers must keep their employees from entering pesticide-treated sites during the REI for the pesticide used.
- Supply their employees with protective devices — employees should receive personal protective equipment while at work, and there should be on-site decontamination supplies (e.g., eyewash stations and decontamination showers) to mitigate or prevent injuries after exposure.
- Provide easy access to medical care — if an agricultural employee suffers an injury after pesticide exposure at work, their employer must give them transportation to a medical treatment facility and provide them with information about the pesticides involved in their exposure.
If you are a farm worker in California, the California Environmental Protection Agency also protects you against pesticide exposure. Under California regulations, an agricultural employer must notify you about where you can seek medical care before you start working, and it must give you pesticide training and information in a language that you understand.
What If I Am Exposed to Pesticides at Work?
First, decontaminate yourself after exposure (if you can), and immediately seek medical care. Driving while experiencing sickness from pesticide exposure is dangerous, and your employer is obligated to transport you to a medical facility, so make sure that your employer (or its agent) drives you to the hospital or healthcare center.
And if you become ill or suffer an injury after contact with a pesticide, you likely have a right to wage replacement benefits and medical treatment benefits under workers’ compensation. Speak to an Los Angeles employment lawyer right away about the exposing incident and the impairments or losses you have experienced since.
Also, employees who notice violations of WPA rules at work have the right to complain to the EPA without fear of termination, discipline, or other retaliation from their employers. An employer who punishes an employee for complaining about safety issues at work could be liable to pay that employee damages or reinstate that employee’s benefits or job. You can seek relief from unlawful workplace retaliation by initiating legal action against your employer, and an experienced employment attorney can maximize your damages.
Give Bibiyan Law Group a Call
Your hard work makes your employer a lot of money, and, in turn, your employer should protect your health while you are on its worksite. If your employer doesn’t take the right steps to ensure your safety, Bibiyan Law Group is here to help you. We have a large team of experienced California employment law attorneys who focus exclusively on safeguarding workers throughout California. We are passionate about employee rights, and we are not afraid to get aggressive with an employer who mistreats you. You can call us today at 310-438-5555 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Hablamos Español.