Safety at Work on California Strawberry Farms
A new video produced by the California Strawberry Commission (CSC) highlights how strawberry farmers, in the midst of peak harvest season and during a global pandemic, are implementing safety practices in the fields to keep their employees healthy, and ensure they are providing safe, delicious and nutritious strawberries for consumers.
The videos demonstrates how strawberry farmers have put into practice the recommended coronavirus/COVID-19 safety practices from the CSC, Centers for Disease Control, and state and local governments. “Strawberry farmers have long been at the forefront of food and worker safety and education programs,” said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director for the commission. “We’ve been able to fine tune our safety practices during the coronavirus pandemic, and they’ve been adopted by our growers and their employees. “Fortunately, the farm environment is conducive to the most important safety practice recommendations of social distancing, face covering and frequent hand washing.”
“We are doing everything that we possibly can do for the health and safety of our employees. We’ve issued bandanas to all our employees and worked really hard on social distancing,” said Greg France, a strawberry farmer in Santa Maria.
Strawberry farms are also setting up chairs to maintain the recommended six feet of separation between people during meals and breaks—and it doesn’t stop there. “Washing hands has always been very important for us,” continued France.
Safety practices and policies are most effective when they are supported by the workforce. Farmworkers are a close-knit community, and they have come together and embraced the commission’s I Pick Safety. For Me. For All. campaign. “At the end of the day, it’s a team effort to make sure everybody stays safe. And it’s essential to the culture that unifies everybody out here,” relates Ricky Moreno, employee safety manager for Mar Vista Berry.
Food safety has also been a long-term focus of the commission, and the video features how strawberries are safely picked because they are field-packed, going from the strawberry plant, to the clamshell package, to consumers, while only being touched once.
Strawberries are a vital California crop, and strawberry workers are essential to the food supply and the economy. “The most important thing for us is the health and safety of our employees,” concluded France.