port, Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, documented the specific bases for children's heightened vulnerability to certain toxic substances: (1) disproportionately heavy exposures (occupational and environmental); (2) rapid growth and development that can be easily disrupted; and (3) more time to develop chronic diseases triggered by early exposures. According to current research, the areas of greatest concern for children are their exposure to carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disrupters, and musculoskeletal hazards (see Chapter 3).

Second, most of the OSHA's standards do not apply to agricultural workplaces (29 C.F.R 1910). These exemptions include most basic safety rules (e.g., protection against electrocution and unguarded machinery) and specific standards for regulated carcinogens, reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters, and biohazards, as well as more generic standards for informing workers about hazards, personal protective equipment, access to medical and exposure records, and whistle-blower protection. Thus, agricultural workers may be exposed to the same hazards as nonagricultural workers but enjoy none of the protection of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. An example of the disparate protection is that workers who are manufacturing a pesticide, such as ethylene dibromide, are fully covered by the act's extensive standards regarding regulated carcinogens, but workers applying this pesticide or handling treated crops are entitled only to the lesser protections of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Furthermore, congressional riders to annual appropriations bills prohibit the enforcement of all OSHA standards on farms that have 10 or fewer employees and do not have labor camps.5 Inasmuch as most farms (nearly 95 percent) have 10 or fewer employees (Bureau of the Census, 1994), few children working in agricultural jobs are protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Although states may be more protective than the federal government, few have enacted standards to protect agricultural workers. A notable exception is the state of Washington, which has extended to agriculture the full range of health and safety protections currently

5  

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998, H.R. 2264, 105th Congress; this same language appears annually in the appropriations bill.



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