Safety groups develop COVID-19 plans

Farm safety organizations have developed emergency planning resources to help farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AgSafe BC released documents last week, providing farmers with ways they can implement safety measures to help reduce the spread of the virus.

It’s expected farms will become busier as seeding begins, particularly as more employees begin work, making these measures important.

The protocols suggest people should stay two metres away from other people on site, if practical. Operators should also clean and disinfect tools and surfaces after every use, conduct temperature checks if needed, and ask employees if they are well before they begin work.

AgSafe BC said the guidelines can be customized to fit employers’ needs. Consultants and advisers can be reached if help is needed, it said.

If possible, AgSafe BC said the operator should designate someone as the pandemic co-ordinator. It’s preferred that more than one person manage the issue in case someone falls ill, it said.

Essential tasks should be identified. In agriculture, it’s likely the case that all work will be deemed essential in order to grow food.

AgSafe BC said employees shouldn’t go to work under the following conditions:

  • If they are sick
  • If they have travelled internationally, though they can return after 14 days of isolation
  • If they have someone who is ill at home
  • If they share a residence with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19.

It’s recommended that people who have been exposed to anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, call their local health authority. Health officials will provide people with necessary instructions.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat and difficulty breathing.

AgSafe BC said there should be at least one employee responsible for making sure surfaces and tools are disinfected.

Health officials recommend people wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. People should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

It’s advised people don’t touch their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Coughs or sneezes should be covered with your elbow or a tissue.

Exposure to COVID-19 can occur when breathing droplets in the air after an infected person has coughed or sneezed, by being in close contact with an infected person (either through shaking hands or hugging), or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face, mouth or food.

It’s possible that touching a contaminated surface and then touching another surface may cause the virus to spread from one surface to another.

AgSafe BC said employers should plan for the impact the pandemic might have on financials. Shifts should be staggered, if possible, in order to maintain effective physical distancing.

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