OFB: New Oregon OSHA Rule Will Put A Strain On Farmers Statewide

Photo: April Clayton

Starting May 11th, farmers in Oregon have new guidelines they need to follow when it comes to housing and sanitation for farm workers. Saying it’s trying to keep farm workers safe and slow the spread of coronavirus, OSHA will soon prohibit the use of bunk beds in worker housing, unless those workers are family.

“It reduces the amount of available farm housing for farm employees, which is very critical,” said Devon Wells, a tree fruit grower, and member of the Hood River County Farm Bureau. “Labor is in short supply right now, and now we’re telling Oregon farmers and ranchers that you can’t have as many workers in your housing units due to these social distancing rules.”

Wells noted the new requirements could have a huge economic impact on large and small farms across Oregon.

“So we’re doubling the number of hand washing and toilet facilities that can be used in fields but we also have to make sure we hire someone to go through and sanitize toilets and bathrooms three times a day in the field, and also two times a day in their living quarters,” Wells noted. “So, it’s going to be a lot of economic outpouring that we’re going to have to do comply with these.”

Wells added farmers have less than two weeks to comply with OSHA’s new rules adding additional stress and pressures during an already stressful time.

The Oregon Farm Bureau recently commented on the rule changes. In addition, the Oregon Farm Bureau has a list of resources available to help farmers work through the coronavirus.

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