Oregon adopts new rules to protect farm and forestry workers during the COVID-19 emergency

Worker arrives to work in a sugar beet field (Lane County)

OSHA’s new rule requires sanitation facilities (toilets and hand washing stations) near working areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus among farm workers (Lane County)

We support and give credit to Oregon OSHA for recently adopting temporary rules to protect farm and forestry workers from unfair working conditions that could have exposed them to the virus. The rules require field sanitation and other COVID-19 health protective measures. The rules begin May 11th and will remain in effect until October 28, 2020. These rules may save the lives of essential workers who continue to do their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic response, as well as prevent spreading the virus to other workers or the larger community during shopping, going to church and other public interactions.

Testimony in support of strong regulations was submitted by our coalition of three non-profit organizations serving individuals and communities who comprise a substantial part of the workforce in agriculture and forestry.

We believe it is necessary to foreground an environmental justice framework to protect those who bear a disproportionate burden of risk from contracting the COVID-19 virus. Work still remains to be done to ensure that farm and forestry workers have access to good health care and assistance from the federal government payroll protection program and other economic stimulus benefits.

 

Following are links to the adopted Oregon OSHA rules and the environmental justice framework we presented in our comments: