COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA, CDC issue guidelines for ag industry
Washington — To help protect agriculture workers against exposure to COVID-19, recently released interim guidance from OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists measures employers should take during the pandemic.
According to a June 2 press release from OSHA, unique challenges to minimizing exposure among workers in the agriculture industry include use of shared transport vehicles and shared housing, as well as worker proximity. Among the agencies’ recommendations are using touch-free clocks and automatic doors, installing plastic barriers when workers are unable to keep 6 feet apart, and rearranging chairs and tables in break rooms.
Additionally, farm owners and operators “should develop a COVID-19 assessment and control plan.” Resources to set up a plan are available on state and local health department websites. Worksite assessments are detailed on OSHA’s website.
Grouping employees into cohorts that work together each day can help reduce the potential for spreading COVID-19 by minimizing the number of workers who come into contact with each other. Other recommendations:
- Provide infection prevention training to all workers in languages they best understand.
- Implement cleaning, disinfection and sanitation procedures.
- Screen workers for symptoms, have a plan in place for workers who have symptoms upon arrival or become sick during the day, and address return to work after exposure.
- Educate workers on proper use of personal protective equipment via videos or in-person visual presentations.
- Encourage the use of face coverings in certain circumstances, such as when using shared transportation.