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EPA Takes Steps to Better Protect Farm Workers in Puerto Rico

Release Date: 11/06/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5867, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) Protect your workers! That’s the message that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sending by citing four Puerto Rico farms for multiple violations of the worker protection provisions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). According to complaints issued by the Agency, owners at Finca Roman Farm, Anthuriums de Puerto Rico and the Javier Quiles Farm, all in Adjuntas, and the owner of Finca Los Tres Picachos in Jayuya failed to display specific pesticide application information for agricultural workers and pesticide handlers and provide these workers with training. Nor, did the farm owners provide protective equipment and a way to wash off residual pesticides before leaving their work site. In addition, the farm owners failed to provide medical care information to workers and pesticide handlers and did not follow the pesticide label instructions for proper pesticide use and disposal. The farming operations named in EPA’s complaints average less than 10 employees and do not exceed 100 acres in size. Each farm faces thousands of dollars in penalties.

“These may be small operations, but protecting workers is no small matter,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “By citing these farms, we are putting others on notice that EPA is out there enforcing these requirements and they must protect their workers against potentially harmful pesticides.”

Worker protection provisions of the federal pesticide law are designed to reduce the risk of illness or injury resulting from agricultural field workers occupational exposure to pesticides. They regulate pesticide use and require that workers and pesticide handlers be given appropriate training, equipment and information. Workers may be injured from direct spray, drift or residue left by pesticides applications; handlers face additional risks from spills, splashes, inhalation and inadequate protective equipment. To learn more about worker protection standards, visit: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/monitoring/programs/fifra/wps.html

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