Discuss about the Pesticides and Associated Health Risks to Worker at Tandou Ltd.
Occupational health and safety of workers are one of the key priorities of Tandou Ltd. The company generally focuses on agribusiness as its core business. This paper analyzes the company by explaining the major agricultural activities it engages in, its location and land size, and workers profile.
The major parts covered by this paper are to analyze:
- The occupational health hazard at Tandou Ltd, the risk associated with pesticide
- The risks associated with the pesticides (identified hazard)
- The Literature review of the hazard, and
- Occupational health management plan of Tandou Ltd
Pesticides Exposure and Associated Risks at Tandou Ltd
About Tandou Ltd
Tandou Ltd is an agribusiness entity based in Mildura, Australia. The company was founded by Robert Walter Smith and Ian M. Taylor in 1972. Tandou Ltd principal crops include cotton, durum wheat, Pima cotton, and malting barley. Other crops that the company grows comprise of sunflowers, sorghum, and corn. The pastoral activities involve sheep and cattle and organic lamb production. The company engagement in treading water and entitlement together with water allocation include water portfolio management, allocation lease, entitlement lease, and allocation parking activities. Other activities include cotton ginning services, water pumping and Pima cotton extension services; research, and agricultural, wastewater, and environmental management consulting services.
Tandou Ltd uses both traditional and advance technology farming throughout its farming activities for risk reductions and value creation. The company operates on approximately 127,000 hectares near Menindee, NSW and 6,000 hectares near Hay, NSW. Part of this land averaging 15,000 hectares is under irrigation schemes.
The company has employed from 2000-7000 employees across the Mildura and other regions mostly women of men of all working ages. The locals are given priorities, especially in the non-professional casual job. Men are employed to do manual works and operate machines in the farms while women assist in other production activities. Professional jobs are competitive and employment is on merits. The terms of work engagements can be either temporary with renewal extension options, permanent and pensionable, and contracts especially provision of outsourced services.
Exposure to Occupational health Hazards at Tandou Ltd
The role of the farmer in production is increasingly becoming more significant than ever considering the global demand for food. The world population food demand is expected to double by the years 2050. Companies like Tandou Ltd, are under pressure to produce more and more to feed the ever-increasing market demand.
Agriculture employs more than 1.3 billion people around the world and accounts for around 40% of the global employment. Agricultural worker around the world is faced with ever-growing list of occupational health hazards. Accidents, rollovers by vehicles, hazardous equipment and prolonged exposure to certain factors such as heat, gases or fumes may lead to injuries or death. Today, agricultural areas cause pesticide exposures to workers therefore, the occupational health management plans is necessary.
The workers in Tandou Ltd are not spared from occupational health hazard either. Those workers who spend more time outdoors in the farms and other company activities are more vulnerable to agricultural hazards which include:
- Extreme weather conditions – the worker toil under the violent rain, extreme drought, and sporadic floods which can lead to health risks.
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) – burning of material in the farm such as coal, gasoline and oil release PAHs. The compound is considered to cause certain types of cancer.
- Heat – worker suffer from heat stroke and exhaustion for exposed to hotter conditions.
- Exposure to pesticides – use of pesticides in the field increase exposure of workers which may result in various respiratory complications and certain types of malignant cancers.
- Pathogens and Vector-Borne Diseases – stagnant waters from high rainfall and floods become breeding sites for disease-causing pathogens and water-borne deceases such as Zika virus or West Nile virus.
- Poly Ozone – warmer temperature may cause lung damages pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
From the above occupational hazards in facing workers in Tandou Ltd, exposures to pesticides and agrochemicals make the bigger part of occupational risk which in most cases lead to poisoning and endanger the lives of the employees, and in some cases they may cause occupational diseases such as cancer and reproductive problems. This paper will assess pesticides and other agricultural chemicals exposure as the major occupational health hazard to Tandou Ltd workers.
Pesticides Exposure and Associated Risks at Tandou Ltd
Pesticides are used to kill or repel pests. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), found that annually there is over 1,100 million pounds of pesticides use in US alone (EPA, 2002). According to Colborn (2006) study on how workers get exposure to pesticides, he found that people get exposed to pesticides through inhalation, ingestion, dermal contact, or across the placenta.
Bio-monitor data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2005) found that there are detectable traces of pesticides in the blood samples collected as representative of US population.
Employees of agricultural areas have occupational exposure to pesticides during pesticides manufacturing and pesticides application. Other exposures can occur through the worker introducing it into the home. (Franklin C, 2005)
Pesticides and health of workers
Many pesticides that are used in the farm fields are non-biodegradable, meaning that when in the worker’s body, they persist over the lifetime. According to the CDC (2005) human bio-monitoring survey, established that a significant number of US population tested positive for traces of DDT. Although the chemical is banned, it is still existing in human body.
Employees in Tandou are likely to suffer from the following health risks associated with exposure to pesticides.
Legal requirement and Ethical Consideration of Tandou Ltd
- Reproductive and Endocrine: Endocrine-disruptive chemicals (EDC) “interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, action, or elimination of naturally occurring hormones in the body” that form part of the body normal development regulation process (Woodruj et al, 2008, p. e2). These chemical affect hormones response that are vital for embryonic development. Woodruj established that they also affect the neuroendocrine system of hemostasis and physiological process.
- Neurodevelopment: pest control targets the insect nervous system. Research have established that exposure, especially children and pregnant mothers is linked to social behavioral problems (Ribas-Fito et al., 2007), neurodevelopmental delays (Eskennazi et al., 2007), and impaired motor skills.
- Immune system: there are research evidences explaining the large number of pesticides and how they effects human immune system (Caress, et al., 2003; Weselak et al., 2007). Pesticides are believed to cause increased risk for allergy and hay fever (Weselak et al., 2007) and triggering of chemical reactions in the body that cause allergy (Caress & Steinemann)
- Cancer: It is believed that the major health risk of exposure to pesticides is cancer. Today pesticides is associated with development of leukemia, brain tumor, kidney cancer, etc. (Infante-Rivard & Weichenthal, 2007), breast cancer (Clerk & Snedeker, 2005), prostate, pancrease, liver cancer, (Dharmani & Jaga, 2005).
Tandou Ltd has legal duty to protect its employees from being exposed to pesticides while on duty. All workers and pesticides handlers should be trained on matter safety and health risk of pesticides. The company should also provide safety equipment to the workers to protect them from being coming to contact with pesticides. Any injury to the workers at the time of carrying out the work duty should be covered by the company.
The risk assessment is the responsibility of Tandou Ltd or an authorized person in charge of the workplace.
Pesticides risk that can exist in the workplace must be assessed as part of this risk assessment and appropriate steps taken to eliminate or reduce any risks found.
Management Control Measures
The company provides its worker with protective equipment especially when for handlers of pesticides. The equipment shields the worker from contacting, inhaling or ingestion of pesticides. The management also ensures regular training of worker on occupational health and safety in agricultural set up. Areas within restricted-entry interval areas are secured to avoid unauthorized entry of workers which might endanger their health.
Occupational health program initiated
Training of employees on matters pesticides use and health safety.
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires training for all workers especially pesticides handlers at least every five years. It should be noted that:
Goals and outcomes of the training
- The pesticide handlers must be trained before nay pesticide task
- Early-entry employees should be trained before making contact with anything that is treated while REI is in effect
- Untrained employees need to be briefed on the pesticide safety information prior to entry into pesticides treated areas.
This employees program will be used to train pesticide handlers. The program explains the safety standards to be observed and pesticides handling procedures. The areas that will be covered under this section are:
Program activities and implementation
- Train on pesticides labels
- Risks posed pesticides
- Pesticides safety requirements and procedures
- Environmental concerns including wild hazards
- Purpose and requirement of medical supervision if organophosphate or carbamate pesticides with signal word “danger” are mixed, loaded or applied.
- How pesticides enter the body
- Signs of exposure to pesticide
- Doing first aid to a person exposed to pesticide
- Use and care of any required personal protective equipment
- Warning about taking pesticides or taking pesticides container home
- Location of written “safety rules for pesticides handlers on farm”
The training will be integrated into the company main activities so that regular training will be carried out for refresher to the pesticides handlers and new employees in the field. During training, participants are expected to be proactive and engage in the role plays. They are will be expected to give personal experiences or encounters with pesticides, question and answer session on how they will handle occurrence of emergency situations etc.
The pesticides handlers will be certified using official company seal on their certificates. This will ensure their recognition in and out the company and also show appreciation of the pesticide training course.
Program evaluation and conclusion
Regular checks on how the program is implemented will be necessary. To do this, random visits to the sites of storage and pesticide application should be made to observe how the training is being applied by the handlers. To make evaluation on the effectiveness of the training, workers can be provided with a questionnaire with questions requiring their opinion on the program. Improvements should be made when regularly on the training content and methods regarding to the monitoring and evaluation feedbacks.
Caress, S. M., & Steinemann, A. C. (2003). A review of a two-phase population study of multiple chemical sensitivities. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111 (12),1490-1497.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). Third national report on human exposure to environmental chemicals. Atlanta, GA. Department of Health and Human Services.
Clark, H. A., & Snedeker, S. M. (2005). Critical evaluation of the cancer risk of dibromochloropropane (DBCP). Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part C, Environmental Carcinogenesis and Ecotoxicology Reviews, 23 (2), 215-260.
Colborn, T. (2006). A case for revisiting the safety of pesticides: A closer look at neurodevelopment. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114 (1), 10-17.
Dharmani, C., & Jaga, K. (2005). Epidemiology of acute organophosphate poisoning in hospital emergency room patients. Reviews on Environmental Health, 20 (3), 215-232.
Eskenazi, B., Marks, A. R., Bradman, A., Harley, K., Barr, D. B., Johnson, C., et al. (2007). Organophosphate pesticide exposure and neurodevelopment in young Mexican-American children. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115 (5), 792-798.
Franklin C, Worgan J. Occupational and Residential Exposure Assessment for Pesticides. Wiley; Hoboken, NJ: 2005.
Infante-Rivard, C., & Weichenthal, S. (2007). Pesticides and childhood cancer: An update of Zahm and Ward’s 1998 review. Journal of Toxicological and Environmental Health B Critical Review, 10 (1/2), 81-99.
Ribas-Fito, N., Torrent, M., Carrizo, D., Julvez, J., Grimalt, J. O., & Sunyer, J. (2007). Exposure to hexachlorobenzene during pregnancy and children’s social behavior at 4 years of age. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115 (3), 447-450.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2002). 2000-2001 pesticide market estimates: Historical data. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/oppbead1/pestsales/01pestsales/historical_ data2001_3.htm
Weselak, M., Arbuckle, T. E., Wigle, D. T., & Krewski, D. (2007). In utero pesticide exposure and childhood morbidity. Environmental Research, 103 (1), 79-86.
Woodru¡, T., Carlson, A., Schwartz, J., & Giudice, L. (2008). Proceedings of the summit on environmental challenges to reproductive health and fertility: Executive summary. Fertility and Sterility, 89 (Suppl.1), e1-e20.