Also, and less surprisingly, on the list of high-risk jobs: farm work. According to a 2009 report from the BLS, the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors had a combined 26 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers, higher than the rate in any other industry, including mining, transportation and warehousing, and construction. The health and safety risks faced by farm workers are caused by chemical exposure, heavy machinery and hand tools, livestock, toxic gases, and weather conditions such as extreme cold and heat, according to OSHA. In California alone, a reported 13 farm workers have died from heat-related causes since 2005, despite heat safety regulations introduced that year.
The risks inherent in farm work are heightened by several factors, Woeppel writes, starting with high-pressure quota systems on large farm operations. In the rush to meet those quotas, field workers may be denied rest or water breaks, or may cut corners when working with machinery. In addition, she writes, while farm workers have a legal right to information about toxic substances they are working with, that notification often falls by the wayside. (Woeppel cites a 2001 study from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine that found that fewer than half of workers surveyed had been notified by their employer about the risks of a pesticide they were using.)
Growers fight to keep any and all farm worker deaths from being classified correctly. I know, what a shocker...and even when the farm is found responsible for a worker's death like that of Maria Isavel Vasquez Jimenez, law enforcement doesn't play fair in dealing with these murderers as they cut deals with them to avoid jail time.
Chavez realized that his mission was important on many fronts, especially Pesticide use and of course organizing workers and their safety on the job..which takes a back seat to productivity:
"The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."Words have power, even from beyond the grave. Thank you Cesar for a lifetime of work that still has as much relevance today as it did 30 plus years ago. Farmworkers still are not protected like other workers, contrary to popular belief. Below is an Edward R. Murrow report that could be about today's farmworkers.
"Farm workers are society's canaries. They demonstrate the effects of pesticide poisoning before anyone else."
California's Harvest of Shame from California Assembly Access on Vimeo.