New Law Mandates Cal/OSHA’s Infection Prevention Outreach to Agricultural Workers
On September 28, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2043 (“AB 2043”) which tasks the Division of Occupational Safety and Health within the Department of Industrial Relations (“Cal/OSHA”) with conducting a statewide outreach campaign to apprise Agricultural employees of best practices for coronavirus (“COVID-19”) infection prevention and their right to receive COVID-19-related employment benefits, including access to paid sick leave and workers’ compensation.
Anticipated Guidance for Agricultural Employees
Under the emergency bill, Cal/OSHA will disseminate information, in both English and Spanish, on COVID-19 infection prevention available on the agency’s website and in current Guidance Documents, including:
- Cal/OSHA Interim Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19,
- Cal/OSHA Safety and Health Guidance: COVID-19 Infection Prevention for Agricultural Employers and Employees,
- COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Food Packing and Processing, issued by the division, the State Department of Public Health, and the Department of Food and Agriculture, and
- COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Agriculture and Livestock, issued by the division, the State Department of Public Health, and the Department of Food and Agriculture.
The bill also requires Cal/OSHA to initiate a statewide campaign to agricultural workers on best practices related to COVID-19 infection prevention and safety measures, including where to report workplace safety complaints.
As part of the campaign, Cal/OSHA, in partnership with community organizations and employee representatives, will make public service announcements on local Spanish radio stations and distribute workplace signs for employers to post in both English and Spanish.
Access to Statistical Data for Cal/OSHA Investigations
Finally, this legislation requires Cal/OSHA to compile and report information on Cal/OSHA investigations related to COVID-19 infection prevention in agricultural settings, including statistical information and investigation details such as the subject matter, findings, and results, on the agency’s website. The specific information required in the report includes the number of investigations in each county and, for each investigation a descriptive summary, discussion on how the investigation was conducted, and investigation result.
Impact on Agricultural Employers
Agricultural employers are encouraged to comply with all Cal/OSHA-issued COVID-19-related guidance, keep themselves informed of the statistical data related to COVID-19 on Cal/OSHA’s website, and ensure their and their employee’s understanding of the COVID-19 Guidance Documents.