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Oregon OSHA releases ag safety rules for COVID-19

Wednesday, April 29, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a new set of temporary rules for agricultural operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules address such topics as field sanitation, employer-provided housing, and employee use of employer-provided vehicles. A summary of the key provisions can be downloaded here. PDF

“We continue to have concerns about these provisions,” OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said for Member Update. “Each operation is different, so we asked that these be advisory guidelines rather than rules, allowing growers and farms the flexibility to follow provisions as best they can. Regulators didn’t take into account the input we provided like we had hoped.”

Most of the provisions take effect May 11, but a requirement pertaining to toilets and handwashing facilities takes effect June 1. As of that date, employers must provide one toilet and one handwashing facility for every 10 employees in the field, up from the current one for every 20.

In employee housing, all beds must be six feet apart, and no bunk beds are allowed unless the people using the bunks are related. There are requirements for sanitizing the sanitary facilities both in the field and in the housing.

In company vehicles, driver and passengers must be separated by three feet, minimum, and all must wear facial coverings.

These are just a few of the provisions; read the complete document for details. With all of these provisions, the employer is responsible for training employees to follow them. Oregon OSHA plans to schedule outreach sessions to provide employers and workers with information about the new rules and standards.

» Summary of key provisions of Oregon OSHA COVID-19 temporary rules (PDF)