By: Vashti Kelly, Programs Manager

Anyone working with or around pesticides knows that precautions must be taken to avoid suffering from acute pesticide poisoning. To minimize exposure farm workers’ first line of defense is work clothing. AFOP Health & Safety Programs recommends that farm workers wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and closed-toe shoes.

March 24-31, 2017 is National Farmworker Awareness Week and AFOP is hosting its Annual National Long-Sleeved Shirt Drive. During this week of awareness AFOP’s member organizations along with other businesses, organizations, universities, and groups nationwide will collect long-sleeved shirts to help protect farm workers from pesticide exposure and heat-related illnesses.

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Why long-sleeved shirts?

The sleeves will block the sun from burning your arms and serve as a barrier to pesticide residues.

Ideally it is best to use loose fitting light colored shirts made of natural fabrics like cotton that button down. The loose material allows ample airflow, cooling you down as your sweat evaporates. Light colors reflect heat versus dark colors which absorb heat and having a button down allows for easy removal with minimal cross-contamination of pesticide residues.

What happens with the shirts collected?

AFOP’s Health & Safety Program trainers hand out these shirts free of charge while providing pesticide safety and heat stress prevention training to farm workers who might not be able to afford shirts themselves.

If your drive is being held in an area where we do not have a member we recommend donating the shirts you’ve collected to a farm worker organization in your area.

Why get involved?

Every day we sit down to enjoy at least one meal, and it’s no accident how that food ended up on our plates. Someone, a farm worker, was toiling in dirt, harsh conditions, and ever-changing weather for the fruits and vegetables we consume. The American novelist Wendell Berry said it best, “If you eat you are involved in agriculture.”

So, if you’re looking for a way to get actively involved or you are interested in hosting a drive in your community contact Vashti Kelly for more information or visit our site

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