Farmworkers Have Rights Concerning Use of Chemicals

El Editor. Lubbock, TX. August 3, 1989

A few months ago the Texas Department of Agriculture adopted detailed regulations under the Right to Know Act. That Act requires that farm workers be told what chemicals they will be exposed to while working in the fields.

The detailed TDA regulations provide new legal rights to farm workers. Farmers, packing sheds, and crew leaders must now:

  1. Read and provide to each farm worker a crop sheet detailing the common pesticides used on the crop, recommended emergency treatment, and labor rights of farm workers;
  2. Inform the farm workers of the specific chemicals used and safety precautions for each crop;
  3. Provide a list of all chemicals used or stored on the farm to the farm worker upon request, or to his designated lawyer or union representative;
  4. Provide free safety clothing to the farm workers.

“Farm workers have a right to know what chemicals they are being exposed to each day. The men, women and children who labor in the fields of West Texas must by unformed of life-threatening chemicals in the fields,” said Texas Rural Legal Aid staff attorney, Stephen C. McIntyre.

“We have been appalled to learn from our clients this summer that employers in West Texas are ignoring the law. We urge every worker who does not receive a crop sheet and other information about pesticide use to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Agriculture against their employer,” said McIntyre.

Workers who are exposed to pesticides in the fields can file a lawsuit to recover damages and lost wages. On June 19, 1989 Texas Rural Legal aid filed a lawsuit in Laredo, Texas against a Lamb County farmer. The lawsuit states that the farmer acted negligently when he used a tractor rig to apply arsenic based chemicals while the eight farm workers were hosing his cotton fields. Farmworkers who are exposed to pesticides should contact their family lawyer, Texas Department of Agriculture, or call TRLA immediately at 1-800-356-5846.