Oregon OSHA meets with community members who say they are unsatisfied with their proposal
MEDFORD, Ore —
Oregon OSHA is proposing some additional policies be added to the EPA worker safety regulations made in November of 2015.
However, community members were concerned about farm worker rights well beyond the two topics of discussion Oregon OSHA wanted comment on Tuesday.
They fear not enough is being done to protect the welfare of workers and everyone surrounding the fields they work in.
"I think if I'm getting effects like this, I think of the people that are right there where fields are being sprayed," said Laura Baden, an Ashland resident.
Rogue Valley residents believe pesticide exposure has contributed to asthma and a number of other health complications.
OSHA is taking public comment to approve an expansion of the zone in which workers are not permitted while spraying pesticides with respiratory protection labels from 100 feet to 150 feet.
The organization is also looking to require workers take 15 minutes before returning to the fields.
Dagoberto Morales, who worked in an orchard for 13 years, says that's not nearly enough time.
"Still the liquid is dripping on the branches, still the smell is strong. Some places require 3-4 days before entering. Why are they going to require now 15 minutes?” said Morales.
Community members would also like to see the exclusionary zones include all structures in the nearby area since spraying can seep in just like smoke did during our busy fire season.
"Even though I was staying inside my home and not going outside, the smoke would get inside my home and I think it would do that for pesticides as well," said Mila Mecham, a retired attorney.
Eventually community members like Baden would like to see some sort of accreditation on farm based products like cosmetics get when they disclose no animals were harmed in making process.
“Can't we do this for human beings, for our farm workers, and say ‘this bottle of wine was produced with worker safety’," said Baden.
OSHA is increasing their highest penalty for code violations to $12,500 beginning January 1st.
However, their minimum fine still stands at $300 and Morales says for multimillion dollar corporations that's pennies.
OSHA will be receiving written public comment until January 31st.