Originally Published In
Levesque D, Arif A, Shen J. Association between workplace and housing conditions and use of pesticide safety practices and personal protective equipment among North Carolina farmworkers in 2010. The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2012;3:53-67.
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Background: There are inconsistencies about the effects of farmworker housing and workplace conditions and use of self-protective behavior practices and personal protective equipment (PPE). Objective: To investigate the association between workplace and housing conditions and farmworker use of pesticide safety practices and PPE. Methods: This study was conducted in 4 counties in North Carolina, USA, from July to October, 2010, during the agricultural growing season. Farmworkers working in agriculture aged 18 to 62 (n=187) were administered a structured questionnaire to collect self-reported measures on housing and workplace conditions. Use of pesticide safety and PPE were examined by asking questions about wearing gloves, wearing socks, and wearing a hat. Chi-square and multiple logistic regression analyses were used for statistical analyses. Results: Farmworkers reporting availability of enough hot and cold water for bathing and doing laundry were 13.6 times more likely to use pesticide safety practices (adjusted OR: 13.6, 95% CI: 1.4–135.4), whereas, those who reported that soap for handwashing was always or usually available while doing agricultural work were 7.8 times more likely to use pesticide safety practices (adjusted OR: 7.8, 95% CI: 3.3–18.5). Farmworkers that reported access to water to wash their hands with while performing agricultural work were more likely to use PPE (adjusted OR: 3.4, 95% CI: 1.3–9.2). Conclusions: Some migrant farmworker labor camps are not supplying acceptable housing conditions such as 1 handwashing sink per 6 people (n=10, 5.4%). Use of pesticide safety practices and PPE is greater when farmers provide decontamination supplies. Improvement of housing and workplace conditions are crucial to increase use of pesticide safety practices and PPE.