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COVID-19 safety for farmers and seasonal agricultural workers

Welcome to our seasonal agricultural workers and thank you to our farmers for continuing to move forward with farming this year so that food can be brought to the tables of Canadians during this time.

COVID-19 – Resources for Farmers 

Approval to Obtain Seasonal Agricultural Workers

 

All employers of seasonal agricultural workers who come from abroad are required to self-isolate these workers for a period of 14 days before they start work. You are required to submit isolation plans and obtain the Health Unit’s approval for requested workers. The information below provides steps and resources to obtain approval and make sure that all safety precautions are followed for seasonal workers and their housing arrangments.

 

  1.  Review the Migrant Farm Package and guidelines.
  1. Complete the Isolation Plan Application form
  1. Submit a list all expected seasonal workers and the Isolation Plan to the Health Unit.
    • A Public Health Inspector will connect with you to review and approve your plan.
  2. An e-mail will be sent by the Health Unit to confirm approval of your isolation plan.
    • HNHU will inform FARMS of approval locations and numbers. Can-Ag (Transport) will call you about flight information for workers arrival(s).
  3. Prepare for workers’ arrival (make preparation in housing units, grocery arrangements, etc.).
  4. Post proper visitor signage at entrances to bunkhouses to other shared living accommodations.
  5. Read frequently asked questions.
Upon arrival of Workers

 

  • Complete and submit the following Worker Arrival form with all required information within 24 hours of the workers’ arrival at their isolation unit.
  • Check in daily with all workers under isolation to ensure they are well and exhibiting no signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Complete this daily health monitoring using this Worker Wellness Check template, or an equivalent.
  • An isolation compliance audit may scheduled with the farmer by a by-law enforcement officer.
  • Ensure all seasonal workers remain at their assigned isolation unit for 14 days.
  • Workers under isolation are not permitted to work until they have completed their isolation period and received HNHU approval to commence/resume work.
  • Remind workers of the importance of physical distancing and remaining 2 metres or 6 feet apart from others.
  • Encourage proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Prepare a daily cleaning and infection schedule. Use of a Cleaning Log Sheet is recommended to track these activities.
  • Notify the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 ext. 9999 if any COVID-19 symptoms arise in any worker(s) during isolation.
  • If medical attention is required contact a local health care provider or emergency department and notify them of your arrival prior to entering the hospital/medical facility.
  • At the conclusion of the 14 day isolation period, submit the completed wellness check to the Health Unit via email (EHThotline@hnhss.ca)
  • HNHU will review the submitted wellness check and, if there have been no reported symptoms or other concerns, a confirmation email will be sent to the farmer. Upon receipt of this email, workers can exit isolation and begin working.
  • Notify the Health Unit if a worker is re-locating to another property or even if they are relocating to another bunkhouse on the same property.
Post-isolation recommendations

 

It is recommended that farmers continue to practice COVID-19 precautions with workers even after they have completed their mandatory isolation period.

 

  • Regularly monitor the health of your seasonal agricultural workers. If symptoms arise in any of the workers call the Health Unit’s hotline 519-426-6170 ext.9999.
  • Keep beds and other furniture (e.g. couches, chairs) 2 metres or 6 feet apart from each other to better ensure physical distancing in the bunkhouse
  • Encourage workers to practice proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Provide masks, sanitizer, and other appropriate personal protective equipment where tasks require workers to be working in close proximity to one another. Follow Ministry of Labour and provincial guidelines for workplace practices on the farm.
  • Encourage workers to avoid sharing household items (e.g. towels, bedding, dishes, etc.)
  • Organize a schedule for meals, showers, and laundry times to avoid crowding common spaces.
  • Provide workers with the necessary supplies to frequently clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, faucets etc.
  • Limit the number of workers going into town. If possible, make arrangements for direct deposit of wages and delivery of food and other supplies to the farm to reduce contact with others.
  • Transport workers using safety precautions while maintaining 2 metres or 6 feet of distance for private or public transport. If a bus or similar vehicle is utilized, the workers must be separated by two rows. If a private car is used, the workers should be in the back seat. If at all possible, the windows should be open and workers should wear a mask.
  • Inform workers to avoid large group gatherings as per regulatory requirements in the community.
  • Keep workers informed about any COVID-19 updates daily.

 

COVID-19 Resources for Seasonal Agricultural Workers

All seasonal agricultural workers who enter Canada during the COVID-19 crisis from abroad will undergo necessary health checks and must isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. Take some time to read the information provided by your employer.

Upon arrival
After isolation/ While working on the farm

 

  • If you feel sick, call the Health Unit hotline at 519-426-6170 ext. 9999.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid sneezing or coughing into your hands or into the open air, instead use your sleeves or tissues and dispose of used tissues immediately.
  • Avoid sharing household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other personal items.
    • After use, these items should be washed with soap or detergent in warm water.
  • Do not share cigarettes or vaping products.
  • Allow only essential visitors into the bunkhouse and keep the visits short. Stay at least 2 metres or 6 feet away or as much as possible.
  • Follow provincial guidelines and occupational health and safety requirements when working. When work tasks require workers to be in close proximity to one another, masks and any other appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn.
  • Avoid going into town for food and other supplies as much as possible. Where going into town is required, plan ahead so that you can limit the number of trips.
  • Ask your employer or one person from the housing unit to obtain necessary items if possible for everyone in the unit.
  • Try to maintain 2 metres or 6 feet of distance when using private or public transport. If a bus or similar vehicle is utilized, sit two rows apart. If a private car is used, sit in the back seat. If at all possible, the windows should be open and workers should wear a mask.
  • If coming into town, stay 2 metres or 6 feet away from others.
  • Do not gather in large groups, as per local or provincial regulatory requirements.
  • Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 information and applicable regulations.

Legal requirements

 

The HNHU is committed to working with local farmers to protect the health and safety of seasonal agricultural workers and the community.

 

All locations will be subjected to random checks and audits by the Health Unit and By-Law Enforcement Officers. Legal action can be taken against employers of seasonal farmworkers for non-compliance issues, as per Section 22 Order, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA)  R.S.O. 1990, c.H.7   Additionally, given seasonal farmworkers from abroad are subject to the Quarantine Act, federal regulators may also require inspection and take legal action where required. 

Workplace Health and Safety

 

As with all employers, the Occupational Health and Safety Act applies on farms where seasonal agriuclture workers are employed.  While the HNHU is not responsible for oversight of workplace practices beyond seasonal agricultural worker housing, we strongly recommend employers stay up to date and implement provincial guidelines as well as any other applicable regulatory requirements.  For further guidance, please consult the Ministry of Labour.

General COVID-19 Information

 

For more information on COVID-19 such as symptoms, transmission, and personal protection measures click here.