Chile to scrutinize producers over workers' health rights

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Chile to scrutinize producers over workers' health rights

Chile's seasonal agricultural workers are being asked to exercise their health rights if they think they might have pesticide poisoning, sun stroke or backache.

The Ministry of Health has launched a national communication campaign to ensure they get help if they are suffering from work-related health problems.

Jorge Díaz gives health leaflets to fruit packers.

Health undersecretary Jorge Díaz, said the government would strengthen health audits to check farmers were complying with the law that governs seasonal employment.

For example, employers must clearly post the ultra-violet rate estimates and offer hats, sunglasses and sunscreen in line with health regulations.

Employees suffering from the tell tale signs of pesticide poisoning such as headaches, nausea, vomiting or stomach pains, have the right to go to a health center or the nearest emergency service, which should be covered by work health insurance.

Díaz highlighted a recent case where 73 laborers in Pelarco, VII (Maule) region suffered from health problems after a neighboring field was sprayed.

He added it was up to employers to ensure work conditions were not conducive to musculosketal problems such as sprains,  dislocations, fractures or lumbago.

The Ministry has produced leaflets, posters and radio announcements telling employees how to spot health issues and what to do. Laborers are asked to tell their employer if they have an accident, record where it happened and inform a doctor about what work was being carried out at the time and the date.

The campaign, Choose to know your rights, will also publicize that laborers who have worked for four to 60 days are entitled to access the state health care system, Fonasa.

Díaz also highlighted as an important milestone achieved earlier this year entitling temporary female workers to six months postnatal benefit.

Photo: Ministry of Health

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