California Fresh Fruit Association and California Farmworker Foundation Distribute More Than 50,000 N-95 Masks
The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) and California Farmworker Foundation(CFF) are pleased to announce they have distributed over 50,000 N-95 masks and single-use surgical masks to agricultural employees across the Central San Joaquin Valley.
Both organizations are appreciative of the quick action and partnership between the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to supply agricultural employees with much-needed protection while the air quality index levels are at unhealthy levels due to the wildfires in California.
CFFA President Ian LeMay stated, “The wellness of Central Valley agricultural employees is of paramount importance, as they are an essential part in keeping the food supply chain moving every day. We are grateful for the partnership between Fresno County Department of Agriculture, CFDA and Governor Newsom’s OES for their support to provide these employees with the resources they need to keep them healthy.”
CFF Executive Director Hernan Hernandez added “CFF’s mission is to provide support to California’s farmworkers, and having the ability to distribute these N-95 masks through our Ambassador program enables employees to stay safe while working outside. We are grateful to all of the partners that have contributed to this cause.”
OSHA’s Form 300A logs with work-related injuries and illnesses occurring in the prior calendar year must be posted. All eligible employers are required to maintain and post an annual OSHA 300A summary sheet from February 1 to April 30.
February 1 marks the deadline for you to tabulate your annual OSHA Log Summary (OSHA Form 300A) and post it in a common area wherever notices to employees are usually posted. The summary must list the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the previous calendar year and were logged on the OSHA 300 Form. The summary should remain posted until April 30. Instructions on how to complete both the log and annual summaries of work-related injuries and illnesses can be downloaded for free from Cal/OSHA’s Record Keeping Overview. The definitions and requirements for recordable work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses are outlined in the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, sections 14300 through 14300.48. Employers are required to complete and post Form 300A even if no workplace injuries occurred.
Employers with 10 or less employees or who work in low-hazard industries are not required to post their summary. Additional details regarding eligibility for the exemption can be found on the OSHA Injury Tracking Application webpage.
Electronic Reporting Requirement
Additionally, many employers are required to also submit their OSHA 300A information electronically. The classes of business who must comply with the electronic reporting process include:
Any business with at least 250 employees.
Any business with 20 to 249 employees who falls into one of several classifications including agriculture. (A complete list of the affected classifications can be found here.)
Affected employers are advised to submit their 2018 OSHA 300A data through the Fed-OSHA portal by the March 2 deadline. Updates regarding the 300A reporting requirements can be found here.
For instructions regarding the electronic filing process, please see federal OSHA’s ITA website.
When temperatures are heating up, it’s important that growers are keeping farm employees safe to prevent exhaustion and heat-related illnesses and to ensure that their employees go home to their families at the end of the day.
On an average day, temperatures in fields can range from eight to 10 degrees hotter than the average temperature in the area.
“We try always to have a regular tailgate meeting to remind all of our farm employees about the hazards of working when temperatures are more than 80 degrees,” said Ron Samuelson, a Fresno County grower who produces almonds and cherries. “We educate our employees about the importance of drinking water, the emergency procedures if needed. And for increased prevention, we are in constant contact with the workers throughout the day.”
Samuelson said that shade is essential once temperatures reach around 80 degrees and they make sure there is adequate shade in the morning if temperatures are going to get to that high.
“If field employees are in an almond orchard where there are mature trees, there is adequate \shade for them to sit and rest under a tree to cool down,” Samuelson explained. “And when the temperature begins to reach 100 degrees, it’s not uncommon for work to stop to give employees a break from the heat.”
“If temperatures go over 95 degrees, we employ other procedures. The first thing we would do is to talk to the guys to get their input as to what’s their thoughts on how soon they want to stop working for the day.”
“A lot of times, we’ll start a little bit earlier and knock off earlier. Then we take breaks more often as well. We try to maintain that, encourage them to drink at least a quart per hour throughout the day. We make sure they let us know if the water jugs are down to a gallon are less. That way we can get them refilled right away.”
Employee safety is paramount because it would be impossible for farmers to farm without them.
“So it’s essential to help them get through the day and avoid heat stress. At the end of the day, our employees matter most,” Samuelson said.
Ag Commissioner & Farmworker Advisory Committee Announce Historic Pesticide Initiative for Farmworker Safety
Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner, Eric Lauritzen and the Farmworker Advisory Committee, formed with the assistance of the Center for Community Advocacy (CCA), announced an historic initiative TODAY aimed at providing additional pesticide protections for farmworker safety. The initiative launches a pilot program with leading growers to enhance worker notification through warning signs when pesticides are used in the fields.
“California has the toughest farm pesticide restrictions in the nation, and Monterey County already imposes local rules that further protect farmworkers,” said Lauritzen at TODAY’s press conference. “But we are going to do even more to communicate our commitment to safety in the fields.”
“We are excited about this initiative that adds an additional element of protection for farmworkers by providing the time and date when it is safe to reenter the fields that require posting,” said Lauritzen. “Farmworkers are the backbone of Monterey County’s $4.8 billion Ag industry, and they are entitled to the highest standard of pesticide safety.”
Intended to protect farmworkers, the initiate “has created a relationship between our office, the regulators and the farm worker community,” said Lauritzen. “And it’s really building trust and confidence with our office and the regulatory program there to protect farmworkers,” noted Lauritzen.
Additionally, every farmworker in Monterey County (approximately 50,000) will receive a business-card-sized information card (in Spanish) advising them to call the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office if they suspect violations of safety rules. The cards also advise employers that it is illegal to retaliate against farmworkers who seek the help of the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.
The information card reads:
If you have questions or complaints on pesticides, the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office will help.
The card includes phone numbers and advises workers that state law also protects them against retaliation if they report a pesticide problem.
Currently, regulations for posting pesticide warning signs do not require information indicating the date or time when it is safe for farmworkers to re-enter the fields. The pilot program will include the addition of one sign that will be prominently marked with a red flag and include the date and time that the law allows workers to safely reenter the field. Only the grower or his/her officially designated representative may remove the signs, after first showing the crew leader proof that the re-entry restrictions have expired.
Osvaldo Cisneros, a lettuce worker and member of the Farmworker Advisory Committee, feels that the change is very important. “Some farmworkers have been showing up for work and have been told by their mayordomos (supervisors) to re-enter fields even though warning signs are still up,” said Cisneros. “They have to depend on the word of the mayordomos even though they have no way to verify what they are told. This change will allow farmworkers, themselves, to tell when it is safe to enter fields.”
The posting and information card initiatives were developed in cooperation with the Farmworker Advisory Committee, a group formed jointly by Lauritzen and the non-profit Center for Community Advocacy. “Many farmworkers are unaware of their right to a safe working environment,” said CCA Executive Director Juan Uranga. “That’s why it is important to provide farmworkers with the information they need to both protect themselves and also gain access to the agencies, like the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, that exist to protect them.”
A second member of the Farmworker Advisory Committee, Maria Elena Andrade, added: “It is important for our community to know that the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office exists to serve us, as well as the other parts of the agricultural industry. We are trying to create that message through the Farmworker Advisory Committee, even as we work with the Ag Commissioner and his staff to improve safety for farmworkers.”
Growers involved with the initiative include Sea Mist Farms, Tanimura & Antle, Bayview Farms, Scheid Vineyards and Costa Family Farms. Lauritzen recognized these leading growers for their, support, innovation and dedication in their effort to provide additional protections for farmworkers.
Lauritzen briefed officials at the state Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) on the pilot warning sign program and the information card campaign. DPR Director Brian Leahy praised the Monterey County initiative. “We all know that farmworkers are the most vulnerable population in terms of potential exposure to pesticides,” said Leahy. “When we protect farmworkers more effectively, we also enhance protection for the environment and the community at large. This initiative represents an important step forward for farmworker safety, and it underscores California’s leadership in environmental protection.”