N.C. Governor Signs Pesticide Exposure Bill
On Aug. 12, Gov. Mike Easley signed into law Senate Bill 847, an new law to add agricultural workers to those protected against retaliation in the workplace and to direct the Pesticide Board to adopt rules requiring licensed pesticide applicators to record the specific time of day when each pesticide application is completed, as recommended by the Governor's Task Force on Preventing Agricultural Pesticide Exposure.
This new law, along with funding approved by the legislature in the governor's budget, will help protect agricultural laborers, farmers and applicators who work with and around pesticides.
"This new law helps us move forward to protect the health of our farm
workers," Easley said. "Requiring employers to keep more detailed
records of pesticides being used and forbidding retaliation against
those who might complain about exposure to these chemicals are
important steps toward safety in agricultural workplaces."
The legislation was developed based upon recommendations from the
Governor's Task Force on Preventing Agriculture Pesticide Exposure that
was headed by State Health Director Leah Devlin. The new law makes it
illegal for employers to retaliate against farm workers who complain
about unhealthy exposure to pesticides. It also directs the state
Pesticide Board to require more detailed record keeping on the time of
day and kinds of pesticides being used, and it requires those records
to be kept for two years, instead of the current 30 days.
"This bill represents a significant step forward," said Devlin, the
task force chair. "There is more to be done and we will continue to
develop new health protection measures and work to see they are
Devlin noted that the task force’s work will be continuing through the
recently organized Interagency Pesticide Work Group that will operate
out of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
In the state budget, $350,000 was designated to replace federal funding
that was cut to track pesticide poisoning cases. It also will pay for
two state workers to train farm laborers on proper handling of