September 19-26 marks the 67th Anniversary of National Farm Safety and Health Week, a time to reflect and consider how to improve working conditions on America’s farms, fields and orchards. According to the National Consumers League, agriculture is among the three most dangerous workplaces, along with mines and construction sites. For children and youth, it is THE most dangerous.
Here at AFOP we are doing our best to help alleviate conditions that farmworkers must endure to prepare and harvest food for our tables. Right now, four members of our Health and Safety Team are in several places around the country teaching staff of some of our member agencies how to train migrant and seasonal farmworkers to protect themselves from the ravages of extreme heat and the dangers of pesticides.
We address the health and safety problems that farmworker youth face through our Children in the Fields Campaign. We have six staff specifically devoted to educating the public and policymakers about the dangers children who work in the fields face from deadly tools and equipment, pesticides, heat and musculoskeletal injuries. Children as young as 12-years-old are legally permitted to work in agriculture, yet children that same age are prohibited from working in a comfortable, air conditioned office. Staff of our Children in the Fields Campaign program are working in four states, where they have organized adult coalitions and youth councils to spread the word and help initiate local actions to support the children and their families.
Farmworker Health and Safety Week is just one seven day period. We at AFOP, and our member agencies and collegial groups, work hard every day of the year to better protect farmworkers and their children. Every preventable injury or death spurs us to work more diligently on behalf of the people who do so much for so little.