The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board introduced a proposal to permit the use of agricultural tractors with Personnel Transport Carriers (PTCs) in level field row crop and irrigation operations. The proposal comes following the consolidated petitions from Buttonwillow Land and Cattle Company and Bolthouse Farms requesting the board set standards for the entire farming community related to the use of PTCs.
Following the convening of an advisory committee and public hearing, the board found the proposal would have the effect of reducing or averting heat illness and accidents. The use of PTCs alleviates the strenuous work of laying irrigation pipe by greatly reducing the amount of walking through cultivated soil under the sun.
Although growers strongly supported the use of PTCs in farm production fields and for use on private farm roads to transport workers, Cal/OSHA and labor interests contended that such use is premature pending further evaluation of PTC travel on farm roads. Accordingly, the rulemaking action is limited to allowing PTCs for use during irrigation operations in relatively level, low-lying row crop fields only.
In addition, the proposal includes provisions for PTC design and construction; required operating conditions; inspections; and training. For example, the proposal requires that PTCs be approved for their intended use as provided in GISO Section 3206. Existing units built prior to the effective date of the proposal will require that a qualified person inspect and approve the PTC units for structural integrity and design before the units can be placed into service. PTCs would be required to have approved seat belts and suitable steps and handholds for a three-point contact.
A written comment period is open through April 16, 2015, and the Board will hold a public hearing starting at 10:00 a.m. on April 16 in Walnut Creek. Any interested person may present statements or arguments orally or in writing at the hearing on the proposed changes under consideration.
The rulemaking documents including information on submitting public comments and the public hearing are available on the Board’s website. Copies of the text of the regulations and related information, the Notice of Proposed action and the Initial Statement of Reasons are also available online.
For more information, contact WG’s Jason Resnick.