Training for Seasonal Workers

Charles owns a large strawberry field in Southern Oregon. He brings in seasonal workers to help achieve his harvesting goals each summer. Charles finds his seasonal employees from several different sources, such as contract labor agencies and family and friends. Because Charles hires his seasonal workers from several sources, each worker needs different training.

What is a Seasonal Worker?

By definition, seasonal workers perform a job that is tied to a certain time of the year, such as harvesting Charles’ strawberries in June. To be classified as a seasonal worker in Oregon, a seasonal worker cannot be employed with any one employer for more than 10 months in a calendar year. For example, a worker can work on Charles’ farm in Southern Oregon for 6 months and then choose another farm or location to work at the rest of the year.

Training Requirements

Agricultural employers, such as Charles, must train their seasonal workers before they start working. Charles must also retrain his employees when the work conditions or locations change in a way that would affect safety. Some of the topics Charles must provide training for include:

  • safety and health rules
  • how to contact supervisors in case of an accident, illness, or other safety or health issue
  • how to treat injured or sick co-workers and call for emergency services
  • the location of posted safety and health information

This list is just a start. Charles will likely also need to provide additional training to fit certain situations. For example, some of the strawberry fields use machines to pick the berries on the farm. Therefore, some workers on his farm may need training on the machines they operate, especially if that involves tractors or forklifts.  This training should also include lockout/tagout procedures and machine guarding.   For more information, please see OSHAcademy courses 710 Energy Control Program (Lockout/Tagout) and course 726 Introduction to Machine Guarding.

Charles usually hires workers whose primary language isn’t English. Therefore, Charles must communicate the safety training in a way they can understand. This can be through their native language or even through other means, such as visual media. It’s important for Charles to document how he communicated the training to his employees.

Charles uses chemical Pesticides on his strawberry field. In this case, his workers will also need training on how to work safely around hazardous chemicals. Charles and other agricultural employers must also provide a copy of the publication “Safe Practices When Working around Hazardous Agricultural Chemicals” to every worker at the initial training. You can download OR-OSHA agricultural publications by clicking here.

It is also important for Charles to provide annual retraining for his seasonal and regular employees. Because seasonal workers are on multiple job sites each year, each with different safety procedures, it is important to retrain workers each time they begin work.