Many of us take
for granted that our workplaces will have drinking water, bathrooms, and
soap, water and towels to wash our hands. That is, unless we work in the
For decades, farm
workers had no right to bathrooms. Workers relieved themselves in or
near the fields because there was no other option. There was no privacy
and the urine or feces remained where it was dropped. It was impossible
for workers to wash their hands. And drinking water, to the extent there
was any, had to be brought by the workers themselves.
now require agricultural employers to provide adequate toilets for their
workers, and in many cases, this means that separate toilets must be
provided for men and women. In most cases, toilets are now provided to
workers. This is largely due to CRLA, CRLAF, and AWHP’s constant field
monitoring and negotiations with employers to ensure that toilets are
provided. But many problems still exist. Some employers ignore the
regulations entirely. Others provide toilets, always port-a-potties,
that are so dirty and poorly maintained that they are a health risk and
disgusting to use. Even when toilets are provided to the workers, often
employers fail to provide soap and water for handwashing and paper
towels for hand drying.
also require that employers provide drinking water to workers and
disposable cups. But it is not uncommon for workers to be without water,
forcing them to drink from irrigation pipes which often carry toxic
residues. Other workers are not provided with disposable cups, so they
must either put their mouth below the spout of the water dispenser or
use common cups or ladles.
conduct constant field monitoring to ensure that farm workers are
provided with toilets and water. When AWHP advocates fail to convince
employers to provided the required services on the spot, AWHP advocates
sometimes report the employer to CalOSHA. In those instances, AWHP
advocates work with CalOSHA to make sure that the employer is fined and
forced to provide toilets and water.