Agricultural operations throughout California are adopting new farm safety practices to help limit exposure risks. Farm employers have been dispersing critical safety information to workers and implementing new protocols to increase handwashing and sanitation measures, along with other means for protecting against COVID-19.
“We’re definitely trying to do our part,” said Tulare County dairyman Joey Airoso, who also noted they have taken steps to ensure employees are practicing good hygiene and are aware of the increased importance of safety in the workplace. “We’ve changed some of our breakroom habits where people are staged out and they take their breaks at different times.”
Efforts to enhance safety and sanitation protocols to help keep farmers and farmworkers safe while performing essential duties are underway industrywide. Resources are continuing to be made available from a variety of sources that contain recommended farm safety practices, what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and other information related to coronavirus risk.
“We’re obviously improving the practices for sanitary and safe conditions for our workers. You can be certain that there’s more handwashing going on and more hand sanitizer that’s currently being used by our farms and ranches,” said Colleen Cecil, Butte County Farm Bureau Executive Director. “We’re also grateful that we are considered essential. We’re essential in that we can continue to employ the people in our communities which is great for our local economy.”
The economic security of the agricultural industry, and farmworkers in particular, is another consideration being weighed amidst coronavirus concerns. With multiple sectors of the economy all but shutting down, many employees have been left without a paycheck. Airoso said that they are doing everything that they can to help their employees and keep them on the payroll for the duration of the pandemic. “Without good people, you can’t run a farm. You’ve got to have good people out there and you’ve got to treat them good too,” Airoso noted.