The California Office of Administrative Law approved a new set of safety standards on June 3 that are designed to protect agricultural employees who work between sunset and sunrise. The new workplace safety regulations, which are said to be the first of their type in the country, will be monitored and enforced by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. They went into effect on July 1 and can be found in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
The new workplace safety rules are designed to ensure that there is sufficient light for agricultural workers to operate farm machines and vehicles safely. They require employers to regularly evaluate outdoor workplaces to determine what must be done to provide the necessary light. The regulations also call for safety meetings to be held before each shift starts to let workers know about the risks they could face and the measures that have been taken to protect them.
Advocacy groups and farm workers hope the nighttime safety regulations will help to lower the number of agricultural employees who are killed or injured while on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board started working on the new rules in 2014 after a series of nighttime agricultural accidents killed at least one farm worker and seriously injured several others.
Agricultural machinery can be extremely dangerous, and the injuries suffered in accidents that take place on farms are often catastrophic. Injured farm workers are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but the application process could be confusing to individuals with little experience in dealing with official bureaucracy. Attorneys with experience in these matters may help injured agricultural workers with their workers’ compensation paperwork and ensure that supporting documents like medical records are submitted in a timely manner.