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Every year in the US, farms depend on farmworkers to assist growers in growing and harvesting their crops. Due to the nature of agriculture, both growers and farmworkers are exposed to hazardous working conditions. These exposures to hazard may include but are not limited to heat, pesticides, dangerous equipment, just to name a few. To help reduce accidents in agriculture, ag employers are required by federal and industry requirements to inform their employees on how to promote a safe working environment and how to protect themselves. Some of the challenges that employers encounter constantly in providing this information may include language barriers, appropriate training materials, culturally and engaging conversations about safety on the farm.
To address this, growers may provide this information in different ways. In a perfect world every farm would have an employee that is bilingual that can provide this safety information to the rest of the employees. But that is not the case for every farm, so the most common way that farms provide this information is through a video format provided by a state or industry agency, if materials are available.
Recently, N.C. Cooperative Extension has developed the Farmworker Health and Safety education program that assists growers in meeting some of the requirements mentioned earlier, but more importantly to help create a healthier and safer working environment. The program began in Wayne County in 2014, with one educator and has expanded into eight counties with three educators since then.In 2021, the Farmworker Health and Safety education program reached out to eight farms to provide training on different health and safety topics for 441 farmworkers in Sampson County. For Sampson County farmworkers those topics included pesticide safety, heat stress, green tobacco illness and COVID-19 general education. If you are a grower or know of a grower, feel free to read and share about the program and to contact Olivia Antonio at 910-305-1010 for any further information.