New California Rules Mandate COVID-19 Workplace Protections for Farmworkers
This month (November 2020) California issued new rules mandating emergency workplace COVID-19 protections for farmworkers, as well as less crowding for guest farmworkers in housing.
Backed by California’s democratic attorney general Xavier Becerra – and applauded by the state’s labor advocates, the new policy will start to hold businesses accountable for protecting farmworkers.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health rulemaking body voted unanimously on November 19, 2020 to approve the farmworker protections as part of a broader package aimed at protecting millions of workers from getting COVID-19 while on the job.
This is an emergency regulation that is expected to take effect before December 1, 2020 – and is allowed to be extended for up to 14 months depending on the duration of the current pandemic.
COVID-19 Surging in Farmworkers
These new farmworker protections came about after investigative journalists for CalMatters, The Salinas Californian, and the California Divide uncovered and documented the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on farmworkers.
In a joint report they brought to light rampant outbreaks of the coronavirus among farmworkers brought from other countries, who were given temporary housing in crowded motel rooms and then bussed to and from work in overcrowded vehicles.
In releasing the new regulations Cal/OSHA wrote “there has been an overrepresentation of migrant temporary farmworkers testing positive for COVID-19.” And continued that strict rules were immediately “necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19 in California workers.”
New Rules Protecting Farmworkers During COVD-19 Pandemic
Some of the new rules that California’s businesses must follow to protect farmworkers workers from getting coronavirus on the job include:
- minimizing overcrowding in guest farmworker housing
- housing workers in disinfected rooms with beds spaced six feet apart
- seating at least three feet apart in vehicles when transported to farm fields.
- keeping workers in stable pods who sleep, bus and work together to minimize outbreaks.
The new rules also require employers to notify all potentially exposed employees and offer them testing, as well as to pay farmworkers while they are quarantined. The agribusinesses must also mandatorily report all COVID-19 outbreaks to local health departments. — provisions that Cal/OSHA
California Workers Comp Attorneys for Farmworkers
Some employers complained that the new rules were confusing and burdensome, but our California workers comp attorneys, along with labor advocates across the state, laud the new rules as critical to slowing the spread of coronavirus among the hard working men and women who put food on our tables.
And, of course, as with any work exposure that results in injury, time off work, and medical treatment, farmworkers who become infected with COVID-19 at work may file a Workers’ Comp claim with your employer.
If you are a farmworker who was injured or made ill in the workplace – with COVID-19 or any other illness – our experienced workers comp attorneys are here to help you.
Our skilled California workers comp attorneys speak English and Spanish, and can help you file the proper paperwork, as well as identify minor issues before they become major problems – ensuring that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp lawyers is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.