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Labor inspection: growers still not using crop protection safely enough

The Dutch agricultural sector is well aware of the risks of using crop protection products. However, it seems they are taking insufficient practical measures. That is evident from an exploratory investigation by the Dutch Labor Inspectorate into greenhouse horticulture and outdoor cultivation. The assessment shows those in the sector how they can use these agents safely and healthily.

For this appraisal, held in the third quarter of 2020, the inspectorate asked 85 agricultural companies about their crop protection product use, their knowledge of the risks, and the measures they are taking. The survey had several striking conclusions.

For example, it showed that almost 80% of employers and 87% of employees are aware of the risks. Yet, only 30% of employers are concerned about the (long-term) health and environmental effects. Among workers, 62% know what to do to protect themselves adequately. Employees, thus, often underestimate the long-term risks.

For a start, companies should have a good Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E). It should describe the health and safety risks associated with the work. Most companies (91%) have this. But the Labor Inspectorate finds that it focuses very little on exposure to crop protection. Only five percent of the RI&Es include an exposure assessment.

After crops have been sprayed, laborers should not immediately enter the plot or greenhouse. Eight-seven percent of these people know this. At 38% of the businesses, "staff wear no personal protective equipment when re-entering the area after using plant protection products, even though they should."

The Labor Inspectorate believes the sector must take steps regarding the safe, healthy use of crop protection products. For this, growers can reference resources like the Health and Safety Catalog for Glasshouse Horticulture and the Substances Check app.

The Labor Inspectorate's exploratory analysis' results mean it will inspect the companies and take enforcement action where work is not being done healthily and safely. These inspection results will be announced later this year.

Source: Nationale Arbeidsinspectie

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