Advice for bringing contractors on farm during COVID-19 pandemic

Many growers are currently planning their cotton picking and winter crop planting operations, which often involves bringing contractors on farm.

But what COVID-19 precautions should you take to protect the health and safety of your family and staff?

All Australians are urged to follow the health and safety advice of the government and health authorities – and more information can be found here.

Below are some suggestions for growers from Cotton Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation to mitigate the COVID-19 risk when engaging with contractors on farm.

Before contractor arrives

  • Request all contractors make contact prior to them entering your property, so you have an opportunity to consider and manage any risks.
  • Request and review the contractor’s COVID-19 management plan.
  • Ensure your farm has solid protocols in place to manage risk, and that those protocols are strictly observed.
  • Know where both new and current workers/contractors have been for the previous 14 days.
    • Workers are to confirm that they have not returned to Australia from overseas in the last 14 days.
  • Workers are to confirm they have not, in the last 14 days, been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Ensure that any new worker with no prior exposure to your workforce observes a 14-day isolation period prior to commencing work.
  • Workers are to confirm that they have not had a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath in the last 72 hours and are otherwise well and fit for work.
  • Advise workers that they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action if they violate the protocols you have put in place.

While contractor is on-farm

  • Before each shift, obtain a declaration documenting the employee’s movements and potential exposure to the virus and retain it as a workplace record.
    • If there is risk the person has been in contact with COVID-19, they must leave the property immediately and go into isolation, as per government regulations.
  • Record employee/contractor’s temperatures and check their symptoms before work commences on site.
  • Ensure workers maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other workers. All unnecessary interpersonal interaction must cease.
  • Hold a meeting before each shift explaining social distancing and hygiene requirements, and the other protocols you have put in place.
  • Adopt and/or change work practices and procedures to reflect current circumstance and enable workers to observe hygiene and social distancing requirements while working.
    • Provide alcohol-based cleaning products and instructions for cleaning surfaces and maintaining hygiene. (Should alcohol-based products not be available, normal strength detergent mixed with water is an effective cleaning agent).
  • Ensure hand washing facilities are adequately stocked with liquid soap and paper towel.
  • Before staff use machinery and vehicles, sanitise all surfaces.
  • After staff use machinery and vehicles, sanitise all surfaces.
  • Ensure sleeping quarters are appropriately cleaned between change-over of workers.
  • Ensure a high level of hygiene is maintained during food preparation and serving.
  • The use of communal sleeping quarters should be minimised and workers must maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other workers. Maintain records of cleaning activities.
  • Workers who become ill with respiratory symptoms at work must be isolated and will be supported with access to medical assistance.
  • Co-workers will be informed about possible exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 but confidentiality will be maintained.
  • Anyone who has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 must immediately go into isolation.

Further information