Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced it has decided to extend the comment period on the Worker Protection Standard proposed rules from 15 December 2017 until 31 January 2018, and also has decided to appoint a Fiscal Advisory Committee in response to the request from the Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers that was received 3 November 2017. In its letter, the growers’ organisation objected to the Fiscal Impact Statement filed in the rulemaking and requested that a Fiscal Advisory Committee be appointed. The letter says the growers — 440 tree fruit farm families in Hood River and Wasco counties — are home to 202 of Oregon’s 309 registered agricultural labor camps, housing 5,835 workers, nearly two-thirds of the state’s total 9,283. The organisation asked 30 members what costs would be associated with a 100-foot application exclusion zone, and they estimated average lost annual production costs of $1.7 million per 100 acres, from tree fruit removal within the zones. Although a committee is not required, “we have decided that appointing such a committee could provide useful information and analysis on which to make a final decision on the proposed rules. This committee has balanced representation from grower organisations and those representing workers,” Oregon OSHA noted. Meetings of the committee will be open to the public, but public participation should be limited to the separate rulemaking process. The panel is not subject to the Oregon Public Meetings Law, but Oregon OSHA will be keeping minutes of the key decisions and will make those records available as part of the overall rulemaking record. Oregon OSHA staff will attend meetings and provide administrative support for the committee but will not participate as members. The agency anticipates the committee will be able to complete its work in January ahead of the last day for comment. The proposed rules would set restrictions for use of outdoor production pesticide applications when workers or other people are adjacent to the application location and are intended to prevent contamination of employee housing and related agricultural structures from pesticide spray drift.
Occupational Health & Safety News, 13 December 2017 ; http://www.ohsonline.com