Steps that produce farm managers and individuals working with fruit and vegetable farms should consider to protect their workforce, their business, and their markets
April 3, 2020 | 10-11:30 am EDT
This webinar will be led by Richard Stup, PhD, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development, Elizabeth Bihn, PhD, Director of Produce Safety Alliance at Cornell, and Anu Rangarajan, PhD, Director of the Cornell Small Farms Program. It will cover: why prevention of the coronavirus/COVID-19 is important, steps that employers should take to protect employees, how to manage cleaning and disinfection in the workplace and employee housing, state and federal sick leave and workforce reduction policies, and disaster contingency planning to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19 on-farm.
Novel coronavirus prevention & control for produce farms
Richard Stup, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development, has tips for employers regarding novel coronavirus prevention and control on farms.
- Talk with your employees about coronavirus, how it spreads, and how to prevent getting infected.
- Print the CDC factsheets and posters, post in your workplace and employee housing facilities.
- Provide guidance to help employees clean and disinfect employer-provided housing. Follow up with employees and manage the process to be sure that this happens. Set up a regular weekly and daily schedule for cleaning. (CDC guidance for cleaning homes)
- Clean and disinfect your workplace. The employee breakroom and bathroom are great places for virus to be transmitted. Clean and disinfect any areas where employees congregate or routinely touch items such as doorknobs and computer keyboards. Set up daily and weekly cleaning schedules.
- Provide cleaning supplies such as cleaning solutions, buckets, mops, brushes, etc. for cleaning at work and for those living in employer-provided housing. (CDC list of approved antimicrobial cleaning products)
- Review your sick leave policy. The first advice for people who are sick is to stay home except to get medical care. Do you provide paid sick leave for your employees? If you do not, will employees feel financially obligated to come to work even if they are sick?
- Communicate with employees that they should stay home if they are sick. Employees sometimes come to work believing they will face punishment or firing if they miss work. Be sure your employees understand that their health and that of their co-workers’ comes first. Communicate and make a plan to cover for sick employees. CDC provides posters in English and Spanish covering symptoms of novel coronavirus.
- Prepare your disaster contingency plan. What will you do if 50 percent of your employees become sick and unable to work? Are there neighboring farms who might be able to share resources in an emergency? Who will manage for a few weeks if you or another key manager are unable to leave your house or are hospitalized? Cornell’s Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) provides community education resources across the entire disaster cycle of preparedness, response, and recovery.
Penn State also provides farm disaster preparedness resources.
- At minimum, share the guidelines from New York state with your employees and family.