COVID-19 Guidance for Seasonal Agriculture Workers and Those Living in Shared Accommodations
United Fresh, AFFI and Western Growers, with input from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have released guidance for agricultural employers pertaining to how they can help protect seasonal workers and those who live in shared/communal housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The document provides extensive COVID-19-related workforce guidance that is familiar to members of the agricultural industry — hand-washing protocols, social distancing practices, cleaning and sanitation protocols for high-touch surfaces, staggered work/break times, the use of cloth face coverings, limiting shared equipment, etc. It also focuses on considerations specific to seasonal workers — who travel to different regions during harvest season — and those who live in shared or communal housing.
It is recommended that employers be aware of the rate of COVID-19 transmission in regions seasonal workers are traveling from and use that information to guide what specific measures they take to mitigate risk associated with new employees. Employers can opt to quarantine workers for 14 days prior to working, test workers for COVID-19, implement social distancing practices greater than 6’ or equip workers with PPE, such as N95 masks. It is suggested the workers be screened for symptoms and fever prior to working and consideration should be given to using a daily questionnaire to ascertain if anyone has COVID-19 symptoms. Onboarding practices should minimize person-to-person contact and all workers should be provided with a supply of cloth face coverings.
As concerns communal/shared housing, proper social distancing should be emphasized and a separate housing area provided for those who have tested positive or show symptoms of COVID-19. Restrict the number of people allowed in communal areas — kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms — such that proper social distancing can be followed and be certain these area are cleaned per CDC guidance. Cleaning materials should be made readily available so that residents can clean high-touch surfaces after use.
For those who carpool, they should be encouraged to travel with the same group of individuals each day. If possible, arrange for the same group of workers to live, work and travel together. If providing transportation, screen employees prior to their entering the vehicle and limit the number of people in vehicles to ensure space between employees. Face coverings should be worn within the vehicles and the vehicles should be sanitized after each trip.
A complete copy of the recommendations, which provide more detail than that noted above, can be found online or in the right-hand navigation.