As the Yakima Valley growing season gets off to its annual start, Worker Care wants to make sure you and your employees are prepared to handle the dangers of the agriculture industry. Of all the hazards your employees face while on the job, pesticides are probably the most dangerous, specifically cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides. Overexposure to these poisons can affect your employees to the point that they have difficulty performing regular muscular movements, like moving arms and legs, or even moving their lungs (AKA breathing). As an employer, you are responsible for the health of any employees that handle cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides. Washington State Labor and Industries requires that certain conditions are met to maintain the health of your staff. These rules require employers of agricultural pesticide handlers who use toxicity class I or II organophosphate or N-methyl-carbamate pesticides to take the following steps:
- Record the number of hours employees spend handling these pesticides.
- Implement a medical monitoring program for workers who could meet or exceed the handling threshold of 30 or more hours in any consecutive 30-day period.
- Identify a medical provider to provide medical monitoring services.
- Make baseline and periodic cholinesterase testing available to employees who could meet or exceed the handling threshold.
- Investigate work practices when a handler’s red blood cell (RBC) or serum cholinesterase level drops more than 20 percent below the employee’s personal baseline.
- Remove employees from handling and other exposures to organophosphate and N-methyl-carbamate pesticides when recommended by your health care provider.
- Provide training on cholinesterase monitoring to covered employees.
- Report employee handling hours to the medical provider with each periodic test.
- Maintain medical monitoring and other records for seven years.
Whoa. That’s a lot to deal with. Here’s a better idea: let Worker Care help you out with some of that. We’ve helped hundreds of employers with their cholinesterase monitoring, and will make sure you understand the cholinesterase monitoring regulations. We can also provide baseline and periodic blood draws, monitoring, and lab report interpretation for every one of your workers. And to keep things easy for you, we offer on-site and in-clinic blood draws, whichever is easiest for you. We’ll even help you compile the necessary paperwork to help you get reimbursed for the expenses.
But beyond all the necessary blood draws and monitoring, protection against cholinesterase depression begins with your employees. Making sure they have the proper PPE (personal protective equipment), including a properly fitted mask, is critical to protecting their health. Worker Care can help you with this too, by certifying masks fit for each employee that plans to spray. We usually do this at the same time as the baseline cholinesterase test, saving you time and money.
Monitoring your employee’s health shouldn’t be a difficult task. That’s why we’re here to help. If you would like some more information, or want to get cholinesterase monitoring setup, give us a call and we’ll let you know how we can help!