Transitioning to Post-Pandemic Operations
Agricultural employers and workers can breathe a little easier as production moves through the summer months and toward the harvest season now that the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS).
Elimination of face coverings for outdoor workers could not have come at a better time as temperatures climb into the triple digits. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has warned employers that they are responsible for ensuring that the wearing of face coverings does not lead to heat-related illness for their employees. The ETS states that outdoor workers do not need to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks. Refer to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS Fact Sheet linked below for complete details.
Though Cal/OSHA has loosened requirements for protecting workers from COVID-19, it will be some time before employers and employees alike feel entirely at ease in the post-pandemic workplace. This observation is apparent when MVP Safety visits operations and continues to see employees in outdoor settings wearing face coverings. Remember that employees are explicitly allowed to wear face coverings if it is safe to do so, and the employer must protect the employee from any type of harassment or retaliation. In addition, respirator masks must be available if the employee requests one. Employers who provide respirators should refer to Cal/OSHA Title 8, Section 5144 Appendix D (“Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard”).
Following are key considerations for helping employees’ transition to a post-pandemic workplace:
- Provide clarity and consistency by updating your organization’s required COVID-19 Prevention Policy.
- Provide information to employees through training and postings in a language they can understand.
- Assure them that you as the employer will continue to keep their health a top priority and assess the workplace for COVID-19 related hazards.
The goal during harvest time is to be efficient and safe. By providing your employees a clear transition, they can concentrate on truly being efficient and safe rather than trying to make sense of the workplace rumor mill.
MVP Safety understands these times have been confusing and frustrating because the agricultural industry cannot stop, and this obstacle has been a challenge added to your already full plates. We have and will continue to help ensure your operation is compliant and safe. MVP Safety services are available for both online and on-site training and consultation services because we know that you need service providers that you can depend on.
If you would like to learn about upcoming trainings, you can sign up for our email blast HERE or contact us at 530-665-4422.