In addition to pesticide compliance and OSHA safety programs, California-based ag retailer GAR Bennett, LLC Hye- Compliance team now provides special COVID-19 specific training procedures on how to prevent the spread, take the required safety measures, and what to do if you have been infected or exposed.
“This is about guiding the grower in the right direction,” says Worker Safety Lead, Lilly Reyes with GAR Bennett, LLC. “We want to reassure the grower and the employees that we will get through this together.”
The infectious disease training closely follows CDC guidelines.
Reyes says the COVID-19 training builds on the value they bring to growers with compliance and safety training programs offered. These programs provide a valued service to growers so they can meet compliance and while being able to rely on the resources of trained professionals.
“We keep the grower complaint with OSHA and Pesticide Regulations, and once the lockdown happened, we knew we had to provide proper training for COVID-19,” she says. “We work in an essential industry, so to keep things moving, we knew we needed to share the CDC guidelines for COVID-19 in the farming operation on how to apply the guidelines to the work activity.”
Right now, the Hye-Compliance team is gearing up for numerous safety trainings in crops such as stone fruit, cherries and blueberries that will quickly come up for harvest. The biggest concerns for growers in California’s Central Valley going forward in this season are labor and availability of personal protection equipment (PPE.)
“We have growers who have expressed concern about not having enough labor because people may be worried about what they are hearing about this virus,” Reyes says.
She hopes these trainings can help demonstrate safe work environments. Reyes has been working to help farm workers take the steps necessary to lessen the risk of spread on the farm. One example she shares is having employees wash hands as soon as they get off a shared forklift.
One of the biggest areas to educate farmer and employees, has been social distancing; farm workers maintain adequate space among them in the field, shop and farm vehicles.
“We know there are also concerns about having enough N95 respirators. So, we are making sure growers and employees fully understand the pesticide label PPE requirements. When the label indicates a respirator than it is required, but if the label does not specify a respirator, they can save those N95 respirators for applications where they are required and use another face covering if needed,” she says.
While educating on changes for on-farm practices, the GAR Bennett, LLC team has also adjusted their own practices and procedures for these trainings. Trainings are being held in respect to CDC guidelines with social distancing in mind.
She also says they are taking hand sanitizer with them and disinfecting clipboards as well as pens.