A recent incident in a grape vineyard in California led to the need to decontaminate farmworkers and first responders. An investigation was launched by the Tulare County Ag Commissioner’s office after workplace injuries were apparently caused by pesticide. Reportedly, workers called 911 at about 11 a.m. on a recent Tuesday after experiencing the effects of contamination.
The workers first became aware of the strong pesticide odor while they were tying and pruning grape vines in a vineyard near Dinuba. They realized that the overwhelming smell came from across the road. A rigged truck in a nectarine orchard was spraying pesticide, which became airborne and drifted to the workers in the vineyard, forcing them to retreat to escape the effects of the pesticide.
First responders who arrived at the scene soon realized that the workers — and also some of them — were contaminated. Calls went out for Hazmat crews to decontaminate 55 vineyard workers and six emergency workers. This large number of affected individuals required the setting up of a mass decontamination station.
Any workers — both agricultural workers and first responders — whose contamination led to medical treatment and doctors’ bills will be entitled to insurance benefits. The California workers’ compensation system covers victims of workplace injuries or illnesses. An experienced attorney can assist with the navigation of the process to claim benefits. Even if the pesticide originated from another property, workers who were affected might be eligible for compensation to cover medical expenses, and those who were unable to return to work for several days will likely receive wage-replacement packages.