Nighttime Labor Regulations Quietly Moving Fast

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

A proposal to implement further nighttime labor regulations for the agricultural industry is continuing to make progress.   The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, had previously put an advisory committee together to draft language to regulate lighting conditions in agriculture.   While developments from that committee have not been widely publicized in the subsequent years, the regulatory standards are still advancing through the administrative process.

Nighttime Labor Regulations“The Agricultural Operations that Take Place between Sunset to Sunrise proposed standard is currently in the phase of that process where it gets its fiscal review by the California Department of Finance,” said AgSafe President and CEO Amy Wolfe.  “That data gets pulled in with the proposed language and then that’s what gets sent to the Cal/OSHA Standards Board for review.”

Once reviewed the proposal will be open for comment from stakeholders who will be impacted by the regulations if they are adopted.  “We can expect this language and its finance review at the latest, to go to the Standards Board in the first half of 2019.  But more likely, the Standards Board will receive it in Q1 of 2019…to then potentially be approved and take effect for our 2020 season,” Wolfe noted.

There appear to be seven key components to the proposed standard, which includes a brightness requirement for individual agriculture employees working at night.  “What this standard is saying is 360-degrees around him, there has to be ten-feet of light from him, outward,” said Wolfe.  “The other lighting element…is they’ve gone out of their way to make sure that you are specifically lighting and marking your water hazards.”

There are already current illumination standards for all employees.  What the new regulatory language is seeking is a more stringent requirement specifically for the agriculture industry.  One of the key concerns with the proposed nighttime labor regulations is that the common practice of employees using headlamps will no longer be sufficient.  Farmers will also be challenged with arranging adequate lighting equipment that will meet the illumination standard, while also adhering to emissions standards as it pertains to the use of diesel-powered stadium lighting devices.


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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West