Does "General Environmental Controls" Apply to You?

This North Carolina state specific standard on general environmental controls applies to the agriculture industry. Are your employees (any number) engaged in hand-labor operations in the field on any given day?  If yes, then you need to comply with the state specific standard on general environmental controls along with the agricultural safety and health standard on field sanitation. The state specific standard modifies the "scope" to read "The scope shall not be limited to any specific number of employees."

The field sanitation standard provides general requirements for employees engaged in hand-labor operations in the field and pertains to potable drinking water, toilet and handwashing facilities, and maintenance of facilities (i.e., clean and sanitary, disposal of wastes, drinking water), reasonable use (i.e., good hygiene practices, use of facilities). It also provides definitions such as:

Agricultural establishment is a business operation that uses paid employees in the production of food, fiber, or other materials such as seed, seedlings, plants, or parts of plants. 

Agricultural employer means any person, corporation, association, or other legal entity that: 

  • Owns or operates an agricultural establishment; 
  • Contracts with the owner or operator of an agricultural establishment in advance of production for the purchase of a crop and exercises substantial control over production; or 
  • Recruits and supervises employees or is responsible for the management an condition of an agricultural establishment. 

Hand-labor operations means agricultural activities or agricultural operations performed by hand or with hand tools. It also includes other activities or operations performed in conjunction with hand labor in the field. Some examples of "hand labor operations" are the hand-cultivation, hand-weeding, hand-planting and hand-harvesting of vegetables, nuts, fruits, seedlings or other crops, including mushrooms, and the hand packing of produce into containers, whether done on the ground, on a moving machine or in a temporary packing shed located in the field. "Hand-labor" does not include such activities as logging operations, the care or feeding of livestock, or hand-labor operations in permanent structures (e.g., canning facilities or packing houses). 

Additional related information can be found on the agricultural safety and health (ASH) webpage.