The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Labor have provided joint COVID-19 guidance for agriculture workers and employers.
Topics in the guidance include: creating an assessment and control plan; screening and monitoring workers; managing sick workers; returning to work after exposure; engineering controls; cleaning, disinfection and sanitation; administrative controls, including training and social distancing; cloth face coverings; personal protective equipment; and considerations for shared housing and transportation.
Noting that a few farming areas in Florida are seeing a high percentage of positive tests for COVID-19, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) Chair Paul Allen urged growers to follow the guidance. “It is absolutely critical that we take strong steps now to protect the safety of our workplaces and the health of our workers,” Allen stated. “Agriculture worksites and shared worker housing and transportation present unique challenges in preventing the spread of COVID-19.” Allen added that county health departments and emergency management offices are prepared to help with testing, sanitizing supplies and personal protective equipment.
“FFVA strongly urges every grower and farm labor contractor to implement these measures to the utmost of your ability,” said Allen. “Download the checklist, review it, print it out and begin working now to designate a workplace coordinator responsible for COVID-19 assessment and control. Growers who work with a farm labor contractor should require that these measures are followed. I plan to make this a priority for my operations and you should, too.”
“This is not optional,” Allen stated. “If we can’t reduce the spread of COVID-19, we may not have a workforce to harvest our crops next season. Our grower/shipper community must be united on the importance of worker safety during COVID-19. If even one employer or farm labor contractor fails to meet his or her responsibility, the entire industry feels the impact.”
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