Good to see about 200 industry members and guests who Zoomed in Tuesday for an open forum on seasonal safety protocols in anticipation of the 2020 harvest. We were fortunate to have active involvement over the past several weeks in development of worker-protection guidelines from our alliance partners at the ODA, Oregon OSHA and OHA along with steady support from Davis Wright Tremaine, OLCC, OSU extension, county health departments, Crosswater Strategies and Oxley & Associates.
And we’re indebted to Leigh Bartholomew, Anthony King and Mike McNally who coordinated the industry volunteers from around the state to draft, edit and verify the recommendations that add grape farming and winemaking-specific advice on top of the state’s existing agriculture and food processing toolkits.
Here is the link to the recording of the 2.5-hour session as well as the PowerPoint slide deck and other resources referenced during the meeting. You’ll see the discussion was segmented into three sections: Vineyard Safety Protocols, Winery Safety Protocols and Emergency Response Planning.
Note that near the end of the recording (1:54) Sally Murdoch, OWB’s communications manager, offered messaging suggestions for keeping employees and customers informed in the event of potential COVID-19 infections among staff members in your business. Sally also offered advice on preparing a spokesperson for media inquiries. Since time was short, we’ll be reviewing the communications plan in more detail during our next all-industry call Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 11 a.m.
Here are some additional information sources that were mentioned or presented during the meeting:
Oregon OSHA reviewed highlights from this new 11-page draft temporary COVID-19 standard with direction and details on distancing in the workplace, sanitation practices, rules related to face coverings and more. If you prefer brevity, see this two-page summary. The draft version is still subject to change and, after final edits, will be in effect on either Sept. 7 or 14.
And business owners were urged to contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture before harvest to invite an ODA consultant for a site visit. ODA can help managers identify workflow points where extra care may be required to minimize contact or exposure risks, such as around field restrooms or in the winery at the time clock. Consulting visits do not include the Department’s enforcement staff.
Workforce protection needs to remain top-of-mind for everyone. Media coverage from other West Coast states is focusing in on the unusually risky conditions this year. For example, in Kern County, California, 72% of COVID-infected people are Latino while 55% of the county’s overall population base is Latino. And many farm laborers worry that reporting symptoms, or mentioning a positive test result, could jeopardize their job or their family’s living arrangement.
Please let us know if you come across other information that we can quickly share statewide as we rapidly approach the busiest season.