Wednesday, June 18, 2008

¡Pesticide Safety en Español!

Earlier this month, Forestry Instructor Jim Hamilton was invited to assist Michigan State University Extension with pesticide and farm safety training for Christmas tree workers in northern Michigan. Like North Carolina, Michigan's farm labor force is predominantly Spanish-speaking. Hamilton presented classroom and field training in Spanish (and English) on pesticide safety and scouting for pests of Fraser fir and scotch pine to over 120 workers and crew leaders who participated in the workshops. Michigan Farm Bureau and local EMS paramedics also presented hands-on training on farm safety and first aid.

Dr. Hamilton's graduate research focused on labor dynamics in North Carolina's Christmas tree industry. His prior experience as an Extension Agent in Watauga County included the development of a Hispanic farmworker training model which Michigan is in the process of testing for their Christmas tree industry. Farmworkers and their employers alike have concerns regarding the proper use of personal protective equipment, re-entry intervals after pesticide applications, and general farm safety. However, the language and cultural barrier between workers and their employers can be problematic for obvious reasons. "Tailgate training" programs and farm field days with Spanish-speaking trainers are methods Hamilton encourages employers and agencies to adopt to improve farmworker safety.

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