Advocacy groups Worker health and wellness Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Report documents safety concerns among New Mexico farm workers

Reprints

Albuquerque, NM – Many farm laborers in New Mexico face unsafe working conditions, according to a recent report from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

The advocacy group’s report is based on a 2012 survey of 193 field workers and 60 dairy workers. Among field workers, 15 percent reported being injured at work. Conditions experienced in the past year included the following:

  • 29 percent had worked in a field with no access to drinking water.
  • 61 percent had no place at work to wash their hands.
  • Half were not given a rest break, and 38 percent of workers who were given a break had no access to shade.
  • Almost half reported health problems tied to pesticide exposure, including headache, eye problems, rash and dizziness.

More than 50 percent of dairy workers reported being injured, and 77 percent said they had never received safety training. However, workers said they did not report safety concerns because they feared retaliation from their employer.

Included in the report were recommendations that New Mexico pass laws requiring rest and shade for farm workers, and allow the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau to enforce its rules on farms with fewer than 11 employees.