Background: Migrant and seasonal farmworkers are at risk for occupational illnesses from pesticide exposure, and the effectiveness of pesticide safety regulations has not been evaluated. It is important to learn from farmworker safety experiences to develop effective measures to improve agricultural workplace safety.
Methods: Formative research included in-depth interviews with farmworkers, farmers, extension agents, and health care providers. Survey research included interviews with 270 minority farmworkers during 1998, and 293 during 1999.
Results: Farmworkers and farmers hold different beliefs concerning pesticide safety which affect sanitation practices. Farmworkers report in survey data that farmers do not adhere to regulations mandating training and basic sanitation facilities.
Conclusions: Several points of intervention are available to improve pesticide safety and sanitation. Additional regulation by itself is not an advantageous starting point. The emphasis for intervention must include educating farmers as well as farmworkers.