NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The threat of COVID-19 infecting one of your employees is real. The impact on your business could be devastating. A news report from North Carolina just confirmed the first case of a seasonal farm worker testing positive for the virus there. It can happen here just as easily, unless you are proactively helping your workers to protect themselves.
While it is not mandatory yet for field and packing house workers to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), common sense suggests supplying and requiring your employees to wear face masks and single-use gloves while working in close proximity to others. Last week, we suggested some basic practices to help with social distancing here. Our https://onfarmfoodsafety.rutgers.edu/covid-19-information/ website has been updated with new fact sheets concerning face masks for field workers, new publications in Spanish, as well as new sections on resources available in French and Creole French.
The health of your workers in the current situation is not only critical to the safe operation of your farm business, but also has potential to impact public perceptions about NJ agriculture. Concerns have been reported about seeing harvest crews picking and packing side-by-side in the field with no face masks. Even if you’ve been closely monitoring their health and none are sick, the drive-by public will only see they are not protected.
Don’t let that be the image they remember about Jersey Fresh produce.