1663d Protection of workers in agriculture against exposure to pesticides at work

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Abstract

Introduction

Exposure to agrichemicals poses an increasing health risk in agricultural work. Pesticide sales and use have continued to climb over the years. In developing countries, workers and farmers face greater risks due to the use of toxic chemicals – which are banned or restricted in other countries – incorrect application techniques, poorly maintained equipment, inadequate storage practices, and the reuse of old chemical containers for food and water storage. The end users often do not have access to information on the risks associated to the use of chemicals and on the necessary precautions and correct dosage. The total number of pesticide poisonings has been estimated between 2 and 5 million per year, of which 40 000 are fatal.

Methods

Description of the ILO activities on the protection of agricultural workers against exposure to pesticides at workplace.

Results

The ILO uses various means of action to give governments and employers’ and workers’ organisations the necessary help in drawing up and implementing programmes for the control of workplace risk factors including pesticides. These means include international standards in the form of legal instruments, codes of practice, practical manuals, training materials and education and training and technical cooperation. They include the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention (No. 184) and Recommendation (No. 192), 2001, and the List of Occupational Diseases Recommendation, 2002 (No. 194). The ILO code of practice on Safety and Health in Agricultural Work (1965), the Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Agriculture (2010), the ILO Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, and the ILO Safety and Health in the use of Agrochemicals – A guide are just a few examples which have sections devoted to protection of workers against exposure to pesticides. The ILO collects information on good workplace practice on occupational safety and health and on the identifications and recognition of diseases as occupational caused by pesticides and provides support for the applications of the relevant ILO instruments in member States. The ILO develops guidance notes on the diagnostic and exposure criteria for occupational diseases caused by pesticides.

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