Summer = Tomatoes! How to Keep Tomato Workers Safe and Healthy
For many of us, the quintessential taste of the summer season is a ripe tomato. The fruits of this summer treat are now lining the produce aisles at grocery stores around the country. But as many of us in rural areas know, tomatoes require labor-intensive care by agricultural workers at every stage of production, like planting out seedlings, staking, harvesting, and packing. Throughout the tomato’s production cycle, tomato workers are at risk for occupational injuries and illnesses of which clinicians should be aware. The new Tomato Workers’ Health and Safety Guide for Health Care Providers is a great reference for clinicians serving tomato workers to assist workers in identifying, managing, and preventing work-related injuries and exposures.
The guide is the result of a collaboration between Rachel Kelley, a MD/MS candidate in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, researchers at East Tennessee State University,and MCN. MCN’s Corey Johnson, Communications & Graphic Designer, designed the guide.
The guide builds on the industry-specific guide models that many clinicians have relied upon for a decade, detailing clinical information for treating workers on dairy farms, in orchards, among row crops, and more. The Farmworker Clinical Care Resource, which houses many of these guides on its site, was developed by the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health and the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health with input from MCN.
The tomato guide was released at the beginning of the summer, just in time to assist clinicians during the busiest months for tomato workers.
“We are excited to have this important new addition to our resources that will hopefully improve the quality of care provided to these incredibly hard working individuals who face significant risks doing their job. ” said Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, MCN’s Director of Environmental and Occupational Health. “We hope this resource supports clinicians in addressing work-related health conditions."
The new tomato-specific guide covers a very wide range of health issues and hazards, followed by descriptions of each of the steps of tomato productions, policies and regulations that affect agricultural workers, a Spanish-English glossary of common agricultural and tomato-related terms, and information about the most common pesticides used in tomato production.
Download the Tomato Workers’ Health and Safety Guide for Health Care Providers and share with health care providers, outreach workers, and promotores in your area who work with tomato workers.