Assisting Clients Across California Since 1993

Agricultural workers and the risk of pesticide exposure

California’s agricultural workers do more than just plant and harvest crops. They also help nurture crops by tending closely to them and using chemicals such as pesticides to keep them safe from vermin.

But pesticides are extremely toxic, not just to insects but to humans as well. Anyone working in the agriculture industry is potentially vulnerable to pesticides and their dangerous health risks.

How do agricultural workers get exposed to pesticides?

Because of their work in handling and spraying pesticides, agricultural workers are at higher risk of chemical exposure. The following activities raise the risks of exposure:

  • Preparing pesticides for use, such as loading the chemical into application equipment or mixing a concentrate with water.
  • Applying pesticides in places like farms and greenhouses.
  • Entering an area where pesticides were applied to perform tasks such as picking crops.

Because pesticides are such an integral part of the agricultural process, workers can’t easily avoid exposure to the chemicals. Long-term exposure can lead to serious health issues.

The health problems caused by pesticides

Pesticides can cause both short-term acute effects and chronic adverse effects.

Some acute effects that could plague agriculture workers include:

  • Blisters
  • Blindness
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Rashes
  • Stinging eyes

More toxic pesticides can cause the following chronic effects:

  • Birth defects
  • Cancer
  • Disruption of the endocrine system
  • Harm to the reproductive organs

An agricultural worker experiencing any of these symptoms may want to file a workers’ comp claim.

Workers’ comp for affected workers

California’s workers’ compensation system can help workers suffering from illnesses related to pesticide exposure. Workers’ comp can provide benefits for medical treatment, temporary or permanent disability and even supplemental job displacement.

As helpful as workers’ comp is, there’s no guarantee that a worker’s employer would approve their claim to an illness. An employer might also refuse to pay full benefits for a worker’s illness. If this happens to you, remember that a legal professional may be able to help you appeal a denied claim or a stop to benefits payments.