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.