The start of a new season is always full of possibilities and presents an excellent opportunity to reflect on successes as well as areas of improvement. This year, as you begin to develop operational goals, ensure reviewing and updating workplace safety practices and providing timely employee training is at the top of your list. This practice will help to ensure regulatory requirements are being met, reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses, and ultimately save time and resources. In this article, we will review three trainings you need to provide employees before the season kicks into full gear.
COVID-19 Prevention Training
If COVID-19 Prevention Training was not on the top of your list last year, ensure it is your first training topic this season. The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standard went into effect December 1, 2020 and requires employers to establish, implement and maintain an effective COVID-19 Prevention Program. If you currently do not have a COVID-19 Prevention Plan, it is essential you get one established immediately (Cal/OSHA created plan templates which can be found on the AgSafe website at agsafe.org.) The Emergency Temporary Standard outlines very specific training topic requirements:
- The employer’s COVID-19 policies and procedures to protect employees from COVID-19 hazards.
- Information regarding COVID-19 related benefits to which the employee may be entitled under applicable federal, state or local laws.
- The ways in which COVID-19 is spread.
- Methods of physical distancing and face covering requirements.
- Proper handwashing hygiene.
- The company’s indoor practices to reduce the spread of the virus, including engineering controls, use of face masks and proper hand washing.
- Recognizing COVID-19 symptoms and the importance of not coming to work if symptomatic.
- How to obtain a test if an employee is experiencing symptoms.
- For a detailed list, please visit the Cal/OSHA COVID Resource Website at dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/.
Fieldworker Pesticide Safety Training
The California Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) worker safety regulations specify safe work practices for employees who work in treated fields. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide required pesticide safety training prior to employees working in a treated field. This training must be performed annually and by a qualified trainer. In order to train fieldworkers, you must meet one of the following qualifications as outlined by DPR:
- A California certified commercial applicator.
- A California certified private applicator.
- A person holding a valid County Biologist License in Pesticide Regulation or Investigation and Environmental Monitoring Issued by the Department of Food and Agriculture.
- A person who has completed a DPR-approved “instructor training” program.
- A California licensed Agricultural Pest Control Adviser.
- A California Registered Professional Forester.
- Other trainer qualifications approved by the DPR Director.
The training must cover the subject areas in a manner that employees can understand orally, from written materials or audio-visually, using non-technical terms. There are 23 different topics required by DPR, ranging from routes of entry to first aid and emergency decontamination procedures. For a complete list of topics and resources, please visit cdpr.ca.gov.
Heat Illness Prevention Training
When reviewing Cal/OSHA’s most frequently cited standards in the agricultural industry, heat illness continues to be one of the most cited regulations. In order to be in compliance with this regulation, it is imperative to establish, implement and maintain a Heat Illness Prevention Plan. Your plan should cover the following elements:
- Access to water and shade.
- Weather monitoring and acclimatization.
- High heat procedures.
- Employee and supervisory training.
- Written procedures including emergency response.
As with the COVID-19 Prevention Plan, if you do not have a written plan developed, it is essential to get one established. Additionally, it is important to note that supervisor and employee training have different topic requirements. The supervisor training should include the following:
- The heat standard requirements.
- The procedures they must follow to implement the requirements.
- Procedures to follow when a worker exhibits or reports symptoms consistent with possible heat illness, including emergency response procedures and first aid.
- How to monitor weather reports and how to respond to hot weather advisories.
- The employee trainings should include the following topics:
- The environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness as well as the added burden of heat load on the body.
- Your company’s heat illness prevention procedures.
- Importance of frequent consumption of small quantities of water.
- Different types of heat illness, common signs and symptoms and appropriate first aid or emergency response.
- Knowledge that heat illness may progress rapidly.
- The concept, importance and methods of acclimatization.
- Importance of immediately reporting signs or symptoms of heat illness to a supervisor.
- Procedures for responding to possible heat illness.
- Procedures to follow when contacting emergency medical service, providing first aid and, if necessary, transporting employees.
- Procedures that ensure clear and precise directions are communicated to emergency services to locate the worksite.
Heat illness prevention training should be performed at the beginning of your season and multiple times throughout the year, especially as temperatures begin to rise in the spring and summer months. Additionally, consider how your Heat Illness Prevention Program aligns with your company’s COVID-19 Prevention Program and make adjustments accordingly.
If you should need assistance with providing this training to your workforce, AgSafe will be hosting a series of annual training virtual workshops designed specifically for your workforce this spring. Topics will include general agricultural safety, pesticide safety training for fieldworkers, heat illness prevention, sexual harassment prevention and COVID-19 protection in the workplace.
Please keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of required trainings, and as an employer you have a responsibility to provide training on topics such as equipment and tools utilized within your operation (i.e. ladders, forklifts, tractors, pruning shears, etc.). If you have questions regarding your safety training program or would like to learn about our upcoming workshops, please feel free to contact AgSafe at 209-526-4400, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at agsafe.org.
AgSafe is a 501c3 nonprofit providing training, education, outreach and tools in the areas of safety, labor relations, food safety and human resources for the food and farming industries. Since 1991, AgSafe has educated over 85,000 employers, supervisors, and workers about these critical issues.