April 6, 2020
Welcome to CFLCA’s newest way for us to keep our members and others in the industry informed. With so much more than usual going on and everybody trying to keep up, we felt that providing more frequent communication via this blog would be helpful to many. This is the inaugural version of our blog – we hope it provides helpful information – if you have things you’d like us to add, or questions, please send them via email to: Lupe@calflca.org
The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing out some of the best, and also some of the worst, and some of the uniformed practices. Our governmental agencies here in California and at the federal level are moving quickly to manage this crisis to minimize economic impacts to workers and businesses while also protecting workers from potentially harmful exposures. It’s been hard to keep up but here are some things to consider:
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT – PRICE GOUGERS: We are all too aware of the shortage of certain types of PPE, in particular the N-95 dust/mist respirators. I have been interviewed and quoted by multiple media sources regarding COVID-19 issues, including the challenges of providing effective PPE to our workers. As a result, I’ve been contacted by three different vendors offering to sell N-95s in bulk quantities and at outrageous prices compared to six weeks ago. I have no problem with anybody making an honest buck or more, but it is illegal in California for companies or individuals to take advantage of an emergency situation such as this to take advantage of consumers – I reported two of the price-gougers to the Attorney General’s office and hung up the phone on the third – learn more and how to report at: https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/pricegougingduringdisasters
DO WORKERS, INCLUDING PESTICIDE APPLICATORS NEED N-95s? Confusion these days because of recommendations to cover our faces when out in public. However, covering your face can be accomplished with a bandana or scarf. We want to protect our employees, but generally, most workers don’t need the protection of an N-95 respirator. Even the vast majority of pesticide applications can be performed safely without the need for this level of protection. Unfortunately, many employers and their employees have grown accustomed to freely using N-95s all kinds of pesticide applications. Yes, there is some chemical use that requires such protection such as Gramoxone Inteon Herbicide – Danger Poison category 1, requires use of ‘A dust mist NIOSH-approved respirator with any N, R, P, or HE filter. Yes, and N-95 fits that category.
Many of the more hazardous pesticides have been phased out of use and no longer registered here in the U.S. The pesticide use lists I see these days rarely have a category 1 chemical like Gramoxone – I see mostly category 3 pesticides with the Caution signal word, or Category 2 with the Warning signal word. Few of these indicated in the PPE requirements the need for any kind of respiratory protection – in fact, most indicate applicators and other users must wear long sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes and socks, chemical resistant gloves and eye protection – that’s about it.
We need to reserve the N-95s for our warriors on the front lines, the doctors and nurses who are putting their lives on the line in the war on COVID-19. Our workers can mostly live without them...
FEDERAL PAID SICK & FAMILY LEAVE DOCUMENTATION: We have received inquiries from members about the documentation requirements under the new federal law FFCRA. Unlike California’s more limited paid sick leave requirements, employers, especially those who will request reimbursement or tax credits under CARES Act and PPP, will need to have documentation of the employee leave requests and reasons for such. We have found a great form on the SHRM website which we downloaded, formatted, and translated to Spanish – you can find these forms on our COVID-19 page on this website.
We’ll have more to report to you in the coming days. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, send them to me at Lupe@calflca.org.
Many thanks for reading, and stay safe