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    Pesticide and Chemical Safety

    Last updated on April 17th, 2022 at 04:29 pm

    Agricultural chemicals refer to any substance involved in the growth or utilization of any plant or animal of economic importance.

    Chemicals on the farm can be dangerous. Common chemicals include pesticides fuels, cleaners and solvents, and veterinary chemicals. Treat all chemicals with extreme caution and only ever used according to the instructions.

    A pesticide is a substance or mix of substances intended to prevent or destroy pests. These include herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Any exposure to pesticides, regardless of the amount or duration, can result in poisoning as well as short-term and long-term health challenges. Pesticide exposure can occur through ingestion (through the mouth), inhalation (through breathing), or absorption (through skin contact). Common health effects include headaches, blurred vision, cancer, burns to skin/eyes/throat/face, nervous system involvement, and birth defects.

    Children and pregnant women are uniquely vulnerable to toxic side-effects from pesticide exposure. Chemicals used to clean dairy facilities and equipment, especially dairy pipeline cleaners, pose a special risk for children.

    It is important to read all chemical labels completely, and to then follow the directions for use, wear the relevant protective equipment, and to store, clean, and dispose of the chemicals properly. When storing chemicals, make sure they are all properly labelled, kept in their original containers, and stored in a safe area that is dry and shaded. Protective equipment might include goggles, chemical gloves, chemical aprons, respiratory protection like masks, proper footwear, long pants, and shirts with long sleeves. Leather shoes and boots can absorb chemicals, so make sure to wear neoprene or PVC boots when spraying liquids.

    Following the use of any chemicals, it is necessary to wash hands and other exposed skin with soap and water and dry carefully. Clothes and footwear exposed to chemicals should not be worn in the home or laundered with family clothing.

    Although farming is still a largely family operated business, OSHA does have standards for enforcement (OSHA 29 CFR 1928) and regulations which are applicable to employers with more than 10 employees. In some cases, the General Duty clause will be called into effect as a safe management practice if the hazard is not covered in the Agricultural Standard or the General Industry Standard. The EPA Agricultural Worker Protection Standard is an excellent guide to use of chemicals and guidance in development of a chemical protection program for agricultural operations.

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    Page updated: July 2021

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