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June 2, 2020

CDC, DOL Issue Interim COVID-19 Guidance for Ag Workers and Employers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have released joint guidance to protect agriculture workers from COVID-19.

Agricultural employers can adopt these recommendations to protect workers at their particular work sites or in specific work operations.

Western Growers is currently working with key government agencies and industry stakeholders to develop additional educational and training materials for employers in the fresh produce industry. These additional resources will be available soon.

According to the guidance, agriculture work sites, shared worker housing, and shared worker transportation vehicles present unique challenges for preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19. Consistent application of specific preparation, prevention, and management measures can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Key points in the guidance include:

  • Create a COVID_19 assessment and control plan. Management in the agriculture industry should conduct work site assessments to identify coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) risks and infection prevention strategies to protect workers.
  • Work site guidance for COVID-19 prevention and control should be taken into consideration in employer-furnished shared worker housing, transportation vehicles and work settings.
  • Prevention practices should follow the hierarchy of controls, which includes using source control and a combination of engineering controls, administrative controls (especially proper sanitation, cleaning, and disinfection), and personal protective equipment.
  • Grouping workers together into cohorts may reduce the spread of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace by minimizing the number of different individuals who come into close contact with each other over the course of a week, and may also reduce the number of workers quarantined because of exposure to the virus.
  • Owners/operators should maximize opportunities to place farmworkers residing together in the same vehicles for transportation and in the same cohorts to limit exposure.
  • Basic information and training about infection prevention should be provided to all farmworkers in languages they can understand.
  • Agriculture work sites developing plans for continuing operations where COVID-19 is spreading among workers or in the surrounding community should work directly with appropriate state and local public health officials and occupational safety and health professionals.

Click here to access the joint guidance for COVID-19.