This Version Posted: July 30, 2020
The local Health Unit works closely with area farmers to ensure temporary (or migrant) workers can work safely during COVID-19.
Section 22 Order For Agriculture Farms Employing Migrant Workers
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has issued a Section 22 Class Order to all owners and operators of agricultural farms that employ migrant farm workers, participate in the federal Temporary Farm Worker (TFW) or operate any model of seasonal housing accommodations. The order applies to these agricultural farms in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
The Order is effective from 12 pm (noon) July 9, 2020 and will remain in effect until the local Medical Officer of Health determines it is no longer required. The Order requires all owners and operators of agricultural operations to take additional steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for farm workers and local residents. Please read this Fact Sheet for more detailed information on the Order.
Advice for Agricultural/Farm Owners and Operators – HKPR District Health Unit
Working With Farm Operators to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 on Farms – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Health Unit Role
The Health Unit works to protect the health of workers and the well-being of the entire community by preventing the spread of the virus. This ensures area farms operate safely and by the rules, while allowing our local communities to stay well-fed and have access to quality, locally-produced food items.
During COVID-19, the Health Unit follows provincial directives and federal guidelines for temporary foreign workers. Throughout the growing season, our Public Health Inspectors work directly with local farmers and migrant workers to ensure these guidelines are followed to the letter of the law. Some of the provisions include:
- Regular housing/accommodation inspections
- Requiring temporary workers to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada
- Doing ongoing screening of workers for COVID-19 symptoms and putting in place provisions that they fully isolate themselves from others if they get sick
- Making sure farmers do their part to protect the health of workers. This means: providing appropriate hygiene facilities/supplies, promoting physical distancing measures (such as making sure worker accommodations allow for at least 2-metre distance), and regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.
For more information on Health Unit efforts, call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.
Advice for Agricultural/Farm Owners and Operators
How to Reduce the Spread of Illness
- Workers should be educated on how to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Encourage regular hand hygiene by following proper handwashing and hand sanitizing methods.
- Post hand hygiene signs in visible locations (like in washrooms, above sinks, dispenser holders).
- Alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) onsite should have an alcohol concentration between 70%- 90%.
- Liquid handsoap, paper towels and ABHR dispensers should be checked regularly to ensure they are full. Single-use, disposable products are preferred. If using refillable dispensers, ensure they are cleaned first followed by disinfection between refills.
- Post additional posters as needed in high-visible locations to reinforce the message not to spread germs and cover your cough. Find printable resources here.
- Practise proper respiratory etiquette. This includes coughing/sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue (not your hand). Wash hands with soap and water or ABHR immediately afterwards.
- Clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces regularly and more often when someone is ill. These include doorknobs, light switches, handrails, faucets, fridge handles, keyboards, and phones.
- Never share items that come into contact with the mouth or nose such as toothbrushes, eating/drinking utensils, or cigarettes/smoking devices.
- Personal grooming items should not be shared (like hand towels, combs, brushes, shaving equipment, and nail cutters). Personal items should be kept separate for each worker.
- Only allow one person at a time to use shared spaces such as the kitchen, bathroom or TV room. If necessary, create a schedule for workers to use common spaces in shifts to maintain physical distancing (2 metres or 6 feet apart from others). Reconfigure common spaces so seating ensures physical distancing. These areas should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
- Workers should not eat together unless physical distancing is possible. Try to get them to eat at different times or have workers eat meals in their own rooms. Be sure to clean all surfaces between meal seatings.
- Remove shared food containers from dining areas (like pitchers of water, salt and pepper shakers).
- Encourage workers to remain in their room as much as possible. If rooms are shared, workers should keep as far apart from each other to maintain the 2 metre (6 foot) distance requirement.
- Arrange for the delivery of groceries and other personal items to reduce the need for workers to leave the farm.
- Contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, if any of your workers screen positive for COVID-19 during your daily active screening.
- Notify the Health Unit immediately if any migrant worker needs to leave the farm/isolation location for ANY reason during the 14-day isolation period. This could include seeking medical attention.
What To Do if a Worker Becomes Ill
- If a worker reports or shows symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with the virus, immediately
- Separate and self-isolate the individual from others
- Call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, for further direction
- The worker must be isolated for 14 days in separate, dedicated quarters used for isolating sick employees
- If a private accommodation is not possible, a symptomatic individual must have his/her own private bedroom and bathroom. Ensure:
- The room has good airflow (open windows as weather permits)
- The ill worker can be kept 2 metres away from others who are not sick
- Workers wear a surgical/procedure mask if they are to leave their room.
- Meals are brought to sick workers. If possible, use single-use cutlery or dishes and properly dispose of them in a garbage bag. If re-usable cutlery or dishes are used, avoid touching the items directly (such as placing them on a tray). Wash your hands with soap and water and immediately wash the dishes as well
- Hand sanitizer is present in the room. If the room must be shared by more than one individual with confirmed COVID-19, they are not required to wear masks.
- If the worker must be tested at a COVID-19 Assessment Centre, arrange private transportation by having the worker wear a surgical/procedure mask, sit alone in the backseat and open the car windows if possible. The driver should wear a mask.
- In most cases, sick individuals can recover on the farm. They should be monitored several times a day to ensure symptoms do not worsen.
- If the unwell worker gets worse and needs to go to the hospital because of severe symptoms (like severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up, confusion, loss of consciousness), call 9-1-1 and let responders know the person is suspected of having COVID-19.
Additional Recommendations for Agricultural Workplaces
- Screen all workers upon arrival each day using screening criteria. Isolate any person with symptoms and conduct a further assessment.
- Stagger meetings and breaks to minimize the number of workers in one place.
- Designate travel paths so workers do not have to pass each other closely or have workers call out before entering a shared space.
- Hold meetings outside or in a large area to allow people to stay apart 2-metres (6-feet).
- Provide access to handwashing stations or hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent locations throughout the site. If hands are visibly dirty, they must be washed with soap and water.
- Clean offices, washrooms, lunchrooms, trailers, workspaces and other shared spaces at least once a day. Focus on commonly touched surfaces such as pens, tools, radios, tables, chairs, handles, handrails, kettles, microwaves, and light switches.
- Clean shared tools with alcohol or disinfectant wipes. Wear gloves if cleaning is not practical.
- Assign one driver/operator per vehicle if possible. Clean and disinfect vehicles between uses (steering wheel, gear shift, controls, interior/exterior door handles, etc.)
- Ensure farm employees are assigned to the same team/group/work pod that is separated from other individuals and teams.
- Within the team/work pod, workers should maintain a 2 metre (6-foot) physical distance from others as best as possible. The need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be based on a risk assessment. Speak to the Health Unit for more guidance on PPE.