Your Health in the Field

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Field Sanitation

Your employer must provide all field workers with cool drinking water, adequate toilets, and hand‑washing stations near where you work. If your employer does not provide these things near your work, they are violating state and federal laws. Your employer may owe you up to $500 for the violation.

Drinking Water

Your employer must provide drinking water in the fields and orchards. The water must be drinking quality and must be free of charge to all field workers. Water must be located somewhere that all workers can access easily. It must be cool, and there must be enough to meet the needs of all workers, taking into account air temperature and humidity.

There must be either a water fountain or single-use drinking cups. The use of common cups or dippers is prohibited. Drinking water must be in containers that are designed to maintain water quality. The containers must be refilled at least daily, kept covered, and cleaned on a regular basis.


Toilets in the fields and orchards must be in working order, clean, and sanitary. There must be an adequate supply of toilet paper. The toilets must be ventilated and screened, and there must be privacy. This means there must be a door you can close and latch from the inside.

There must be at least one toilet that meets all these standards for every twenty workers.

Hand‑washing Stations

Hand-washing stations must be clean and sanitary. They must be refilled as needed with water fit for drinking. They must include soap and single-use towels. They must be located together with the toilets. There must be at least one station for every twenty workers. If working in a pesticide treated area, there must be at least one gallon of water available for each worker at the beginning of work.

Reasonable Use

The employer must notify each worker of the location of the drinking water, toilets, and hand-washing stations. The employer must also give each worker reasonable opportunities during the workday to:

  • Use the toilet as often as necessary

  • Wash hands before and after using the toilet, and before eating and smoking

  • Drink water frequently, especially on hot days

Pesticides: A Danger to Your Health

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Pesticides are used to kill pests, like insects and vermin. They can also poison your water supply, your food, and you and your children.

Do the following things to protect yourself and your family from pesticides:

  • Stay away from areas where pesticides have been applied

  • Stay away from any items that have come in contact with pesticides

  • Scrub your hands to completely remove pesticides, especially before eating or smoking

  • Shower and put on clean clothes after work

  • Wash work clothes separately from other clothes

Symptoms of Poisoning

The following are symptoms of pesticide poisoning:

  • Skin rashes

  • Eye irritation

  • Blurred vision

  • Nausea

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Numbness or tingling in your limbs

Delayed effects may be cancer, birth defects, or harm to your kidneys, liver, or nervous system.

What to Do If You Are Exposed

If you are exposed to pesticides, you should do all of the following:

  • Remove your clothes and wash yourself with water

  • Save any clothes that are exposed to pesticides in an airtight container and keep them out of the light

  • Get the name of the pesticide or the label from the container

  • Go to the nearest medical facility as soon as possible and tell the doctor or nurse that you were exposed to pesticides

If you cannot get to a doctor, call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

What Your Employer Must Do to Protect You

To protect you from pesticides, your employer must do all of the following:

  • Tell you which fields have been treated with pesticides and when it is safe to return

  • Not allow anyone into an area treated with pesticides before it is safe to return

  • Post a list of pesticides that have been used and if you request it, give you information sheets with safety data about the pesticides used

  • Provide water, soap, and towels in the fields

  • Verify that you have received annual pesticide training in your language before you work in a pesticide treated area

  • Take you to the nearest medical facility if you have been poisoned, and provide information on the pesticide used

Your employer must not punish you for making a complaint about pesticide safety.

It Is Your Right and In Your Best Interest to:

  • Protect yourself and your family from pesticide poisoning

  • Insist that your employer protect you from pesticide poisoning

  • Speak up or file a complaint if you are not protected

Pesticide Emergency?

Call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

By reporting exposure, you help reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning.


Call The Michigan Farmworker Law Hotline at 1-800-968-4046 to get more information, or to report suspected violations of these rules. You should be able to describe where the field is, and you should call as soon as possible to resolve the problem.

This information was provided by Farmworker Legal Services (FLS). FLS is a legal aid office with lawyers and other legal staff who provide free legal assistance and referrals to migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Michigan.