farmer in field

Advocating for Safe and Sanitary Job Site Conditions

Field sanitation and hygiene for agricultural workers in the field is important because a workplace without adequate field sanitation fosters communicable diseases and lacks pesticide-exposure protections. For example, drinking from a communal cup attached to an employer-provided cooler of water, or lack of soap or handwashing facilities and portable toilets, increases the likelihood of illness and exposure.

Given the prevalent use of pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, organophosphates put workers at risk. Farmworkers must be educated on their rights to safe working conditions and adequate sanitation and hygiene at job site locations and housing.

Heat Stress: A Rising Problem for Michigan Farmworkers

With temperatures rising in Michigan, farmworkers are exposed to hotter environments and heat-related illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that farmworkers die from heat-related illness at 20 times the rate of the entire U.S. civilian workforce. In 2020, MLA assisted a newly arrived H-2A worker who fell ill from a combination of heat stress and pesticide exposure that eventually led to his death. Migrant Legal Aid is working on ways to educate Michigan farmworkers regarding this danger. If you would like more information about Heat Stress and farmworkers, please visit AFOP.

Employers Have a Responsibility to Keep Job Sites Safe and Clean

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act creates standards for field sanitation that must be maintained by employers. Employers have many responsibilities that help keep places of employment free from recognized and latent hazards. These include providing access to potable drinking water, as well as toilet and handwashing facilities.

Migrant Legal Aid Advocates for Sanitary Working Conditions

Migrant Legal Aid helps enforce the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) and the working conditions, such as those rights afforded by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act. This work helps to minimize hazards in the work environment and migrant labor housing units. Our team offers information about field sanitation and hygienic work practices as well as information about migrants’ on-the-job safety and related legal rights.

If your job site has hazardous or unsafe conditions, or if you don’t have worksite access to bathrooms, hand-washing facilities or drinking water, contact Migrant Legal Aid for help.

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