Farms may be continuing to operate during the Covid-19 crisis, but all businesses need to do what they can to safeguard workers and stop the spread of the virus.
Public Health England has issued new guidance for farms on the Government website, which provides more detailed advice for on farm situations.
The Government website states that:
Where it is not possible to follow the social distancing guidelines in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.
• If a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained, staff should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face if possible.
• You should communicate to all staff that they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more and more frequently than normal.
• If workers have to share enclosed spaces such as the cabs of vehicles, they should keep the window open for ventilation and they should be careful to avoid touching their face at all times. On leaving the enclosed space, they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more or use hand sanitiser when they cannot wash their hands.
• If customer-facing, you should consider how you can safely sell your products or services without encouraging crowds and ensure hygiene measures are in place. This could be done by taking orders online or by telephone in advance and pre-packing orders to limit face-to-face time, or considering delivery services if possible. When interacting with customers, you should maintain a 2 metre distance as much as possible.
• To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has published further detail on how you might carry out government guidance for agricultural workers on fruit and vegetable farms. See links below.
Additional guidance available here relates to food processing plants:
Food safety practices in food processing plants should continue to be delivered to the highest hygiene standards including the use of some personal protective equipment and frequent hand washing.
Some farms are creating controlled environments where groceries and essentials are brought in for workers who remain on the farm and in the same accommodation.
HOPS can provide permits for people who need to travel during the crisis as farm workers are classed as key workers.
We have provided links below for further information and guidance that you may find useful when carrying out your risk assessment and putting appropriate processes in place. Please remember to keep checking the Government website for updates to this information as the situation is changing rapidly.