Protecting Farm Workers During COVID-19


Enterprise Canada

Release Date

Thursday, September 3, 2020


As Ontario continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, one area of concern continues to be local farms, and the workers in the fields — particularly migrant workers.

Outbreaks have been an ongoing issue across southwestern Ontario as the province tries to ramp up testing and institute safety measures to keep agricultural workers safe. But while political and health officials work to contain the spread, there are measures that individual farmers can take to ensure their farms are clean and safe places to work.

“This is a good reminder for our farmers to continue to think about biosecurity and added layers of protection in implementing infection protection measures to protect their team,” says Dr. Lucas Pantaleon, technical veterinary advisor with Ogena Solutions. “But cleaning a farm isn’t the same as cleaning a factory, school or even a home. Farms are the source of our food, and cleaning in an agricultural setting has to ensure it is safe for people, livestock and crops and won't damage sensitive equipment.”

Ogena Solutions specializes in biosecurity in animal shelters, veterinary settings and farms.

When managing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Pantaleon offers farmers the following advice: 

  • Ensure Personal Protective Equipment is Used — All workers on and visitors to the farm should be wearing face coverings. Masks are one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the droplets that may carry the virus.
  • Maintain Physical Distancing — it works in the grocery stores, and it will work on the farm as well. Workers should never be put in a position where they have to be closer than two metres (six feet) to another person.
  • Preach Personal Hygiene — All sinks should be adequately supplied with warm water and soap, and for areas where sinks are unavailable (such as in the middle of the field), workers should have access to hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and Disinfect — Most people ignore the reality that cleaning and disinfecting are actually two different things. First you clean. Then you disinfect. In an agricultural setting, a chemical like Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide is preferred as it will attack viruses and pathogens, but is harmless to livestock, plants, people and equipment.

“If we all wear masks along with good hygiene and social distance, we can do a lot to limit and prevent this disease from growing even bigger,” says Dr. Pantaleon

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