Businesses fined record amounts for failing to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the Form I-9 extension doubles this time around, and millions of marijuana crops go up in smoke. It’s all in the EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap.
If you are open for business right now, you MUST make sure you are protecting your employees from COVID-19. Businesses have had six months to prepare, and now, state and federal agencies are starting to crack down on employers that are not protecting their people.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently cited and fined 11 companies for failing to follow the state agency’s COVID-19 protocols. The companies are all in agriculture and food processing.
The largest fine was levied against Overhill Farms. According to Cal/OSHA, the Los Angeles-based frozen food manufacturer failed to install barriers or reconfigure the plant in any way to allow for physical distancing. Employees were unprotected throughout their day, from the conveyor belt to the breakroom. The company was also cited for not investigating more than 20 cases of coronavirus, and for not notifying employees who might have been exposed. The $220,000 fine is the largest COVID-19 related penalty recorded so far.
The company that provides Overhill Farms with temporary workers was also cited, as well as nine others. An Overhill spokesperson says they have gone “above and beyond” federal, state, and local guidance and the company plans to “strongly contest” the citations.
Wildfires raging on the west coast have burned and contaminated thousands of acres of marijuana crops from Washington State to California. The losses are expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
On top of the losses, many smaller growers do not have insurance because the crop is still illegal under federal law. Experts are saying this could have a long-term effect on the entire region’s medical and recreational industries.
If you are thinking that the smoldering crops might help ease the stress of people watching their states go up in smoke, doctors at Johns Hopkins say there will be no contact high here. According to the experts, you would have to be in a closed room with all of the smoke to feel any effects, and since it’s happening in the great outdoors with winds helping dissipate the smoke, it would be nearly impossible for it to have any effect.
Well, here we are again. It’s the middle of the month, so that must mean it’s time for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to extend the flexible rules for completing the in-person portion of Form I-9.
The relaxed compliance began back in March to allow employers to keep onboarding without having to examine the Section 2 documents in person. It has been extended every month since then. But this time, the extension is for an additional 60 days, rather than just 30.
Again, as we have told you before, this only applies to employers who are working completely remotely. The current accommodations are now in place until November 19th. If you have any questions about what you need to know when the extension finally ends, check out what our EBI Expert had to say.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.