EMPLOYEES HEALTH

Agriculture Related Health Surveillance Medicals

Chemicals on Farms

A range of pesticides are used in the agricultural sector to protect plants, animals and agricultural products from harmful pests and diseases. Many of these pesticides contain hazardous chemicals that can have short term and long term health effects if the risks aren’t managed safely.

It’s important you know the chemicals that you are working with so you can take precautions, and know what to do in potentially dangerous situations.

The international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified Benzene as a carcinogenic for humans. Benzene is contained in diesel engine exhaust fumes and has been identified as an emerging health risk for those in the agricultural industry.

Diesel exhaust, which agricultural workers may be exposed to can cause damage to the lungs if inhaled. Short term exposure to fuels containing Benzene can cause nausea and loss of co-ordination. Long term exposure has the potential to increase the risk of an early death from heart and lung disease or Leaukaemia.

A good way to keep healthy is to use safer engines and cleaner fuels (e.g. low emission technology, emission control devices such as particle filters, ultra low sulphur diesel, compressed natural gas or electricity).

Prevention and Safe Handling in Agriculture

Prevention is always better than dealing with the effects of hazardous chemical exposure and you can take steps to minimise any potential health risks:

  • talk to others about product substitution
  • keep informed about banned products
  • read safety and product labels on the chemicals you are working with and be sure you store them safely
  • keep areas where emissions are present isolated
  • ensure there is adequate ventilation
  • minimise the length of time exposed to emissions
  • regularly maintain all vehicles and plant
  • make lifestyle changes – smoking can escalate symptoms

Medical Treatment within the Agriculture Industry

If you believe you have been exposed to harmful chemicals ensure you talk to your doctor about:

  • your past and present occupation
  • your lifestyle (e.g. smoking)
  • any changes in your health medical tests

Resources

Industry Associations:

For more information refer to Safework