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Cal/OSHA Issues COVID-19 Guidance for Agricultural Employers

On April 7, 2020, the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued COVID-19 Safety and Health Guidance (in English and Spanish) for agricultural employers. The guidance is not a new legal obligation but rather a reminder that COVID-19 is a workplace hazard to be addressed by an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

The guidance reminds agricultural employers that they “must provide training” related to COVID-19, such as information about what COVID-19 is, how it spreads, how further spread may be prevented, and its symptoms. Recommended training also includes proper handwashing, social distancing, and the employer’s plan to protect workers from COVID-19 illness.

In addition, the guidance recommends that IIPP administrators establish procedures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace, including by sending sick workers home, encouraging sick workers to stay at home, cleaning and disinfecting work areas with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved products, and sanitizing work equipment. The guidance further states that physical distancing information should be provided to workers so that they understand how to avoid large gatherings of employees, stagger breaks and lunch times, and possibly adjust line speed and other work processes to maintain a six-foot distance between employees.

California agricultural employers may want to consider providing English and Spanish-language versions of the guidance to workplaces and making the document available on bulletin boards and via electronic means.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 100

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About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

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