February 23, 2022

First Aid for Pesticide Exposure

An estimated 20,000 agricultural workers are treated for pesticide exposure each year. These workers suffer effects like headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, or seizures. Here’s what you need to know about being exposed to pesticides on the job.

According to Farmworker Justice, the EPA estimates that doctors treat up to 20,000 cases of pesticide poisoning per year. Pesticides can enter your body through your skin, eyes, nose, and mouth. They can cause symptoms like a rash, headache, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Being familiar with the signs of pesticide exposure and knowing the proper first aid procedures is important for your safety. Here’s what you need to know about being exposed to pesticides at work.

tractor spraying pesticides

Skin: Pesticides can get on your skin when you touch a pesticide or its residue on plants, soil, contaminated clothes, or work equipment. If you get a pesticide on your skin, you should wash it off immediately with soap and water. Follow up by showering and changing into clean clothes. Visit your doctor if any symptoms persist.

Eyes: Pesticides can get into your eyes from airborne dust, splashes or spills, broken hoses, spray mists, or touching your eyes with your hands. If a pesticide gets into your eyes, follow first aid procedures by washing it out with an eyewash kit or any source of clean water for 15 minutes. Get medical attention as soon as you can.

Mouth: Pesticides can get in your mouth when you eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum without washing your hands first. You can also consume pesticides by eating unwashed produce or by accidentally mistaking a pesticide for food or drink. If you’ve ingested a pesticide, tell your employer right away. You’ll need to follow the emergency first aid instructions on the label of the pesticide and get medical attention quickly.

Inhalation: You can be exposed to pesticides if you breathe in vapors, dust, or spray particles through your nose or mouth. Pesticides can travel from the lungs to other parts of the body very quickly. Get to fresh air as quickly as you can. You may need to get medical attention.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of pesticide exposure, let your employer know right away. Your employer is required to provide transportation for you to a nearby medical facility.

It’s important to understand how a pesticide can get into your body and what you should do about it. Knowing the proper first aid methods to use in case of pesticide exposure can keep you and your coworkers safe. If you’d like to learn more, visit our Ag Safety Training website.

Also, take a look at our Hard Hat Training course on first aid in agriculture and the other safety courses we offer on agriculture. Be sure to check out the Hard Hat Training website for information on the other training materials we offer.

Good luck and stay safe!