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Gold Star Grower Program

Gold Star Award

N.C. Department of Labor's Gold Star Grower Program is administered through its Agricultural Safety and Health Bureau of the Occupational Safety and Health Division. 

The Gold Star Grower Housing Program recognizes growers who provide farmworker housing that meets and exceeds all of the requirements of the Migrant Housing Act of North Carolina. 

The Gold Star Flag recognizes agricultural employers who have devised ways to continuously promote a culture of safety on their farms. Gold Star Flag recipients have identified hazards, trained their employees and completed farm safety inspections. They follow and exceed the regulations pertaining to the agricultural work place. For more information about the Gold Star Grower Program, please call 919-707-7820.

Gold Star Grower Programs

Gold Star Grower Housing Program

Gold Star Grower Housing Program

How to be a Gold Star Grower

  • Register farmworker housing with the N.C. Department of Labor Agricultural Safety and Health Bureau at least 45 days prior to occupancy.

  • Have the local health department inspect and approve the water and septic systems at least 45 days prior to occupancy.

  • Have your housing 100 percent in compliance at the time of the preoccupancy inspection. Take steps to improve your housing—go beyond the requirements—to ensure that your housing is a Star site. Each grower determines the best way to provide Gold Star housing.

  • Ways to exceed the requirements include: additional showers; toilets; living space; refrigerators; stoves; air conditioning; washing machines and clothes dryers; dining table large enough for everyone; partitions between toilets in bathrooms; telephones; recreation areas such as soccer fields; and maintaining the housing throughout the season.

The following video, available in English and Spanish, contains additional information on the Gold Star Grower Housing Program.

Gold Star Flag Award

Gold Star Flag Award

How to earn a Gold Star Flag Award for Agricultural Housing and Workplace Safety

The Gold Star Flag recognizes agricultural employers who have devised ways to continuously promote a culture of safety on their farms. Gold Star Flag recipients have identified hazards, trained their employees and completed farm safety inspections. They follow and exceed the regulations pertaining to the agricultural work place.

To earn the Gold Star Flag, a grower needs to create a culture of safety. This means that in addition to following the required occupational safety and health standards, the grower has taken additional steps to promote a culture of safety. This may mean holding daily or weekly safety briefings to discuss current conditions. It may also mean conducting annual on-site training so that employees can become familiar with farm practices and machinery prior to use. Heat stress prevention may be one such focus.

The successful flag candidate must have:

  • If operating housing, the housing must have met the criteria for the Gold Star Grower Housing award for at least two years

  • Knowledge and use of appropriate field sanitation

  • Certification of all personnel handling pesticides

  • Written safety program governing use of pesticides, injury prevention and worker training

  • Active training program with all relevant workplace safety issues addressed

  • Injury and accident record below the average rate for the industry

  • Safe, approved storage of equipment and chemicals

  • Compliance with OSH regulations for the industry

  • Have an employee trained in first aid and CPR on site during all work shifts

The applicant must submit a written request to become a Gold Star Grower Flag recipient. The candidate will be sent a safety assessment checklist and packet of relevant NCDOL materials. When the candidate is ready for an on-site visit, an inspector from the Agricultural Safety and Health Bureau will visit the site and inspect the following:

  • Housing during occupancy

  • General maintenance

  • OSHA injury and illness forms for the site and for all sites contracted; safety rules, emergency procedures and examples of safe work procedures

  • Meet applicable written program requirements such as personal protective equipment hazard assessments, safety data sheets and hazard communication

  • Management system for enforcing safety rules that is followed throughout the workplace

  • Safety program that covers all applicable standards

  • Timely, regular reports of employee orientation and safety training programs

  • Machinery equipment repair and routine maintenance records

  • Pesticide training and application records

  • Storage and labeling of pesticides

  • Self-inspection program governing housing, field sanitation, chemical storage and accident prevention

Interviews may be conducted with:

  • Employees, both full-time and part-time

  • County extension agents

  • County environmental health and safety specialist

  • Local Employment Security Commission employees (office of Rural Manpower)

Once a site earns Gold Star Flag status, a presentation will be made to the recipient before members of the agricultural community. This presentation may be on- site, through a general meeting with NCSU Cooperative Extension or through the Gold Star Grower Housing annual meeting. This presentation may involve photographs, slides or a “virtual visit” of the Gold Star Flag site. A workplace site visit will be scheduled every other year to determine if the grower is still in compliance with Gold Star Flag requirements. The Commissioner of Labor will present the flag and a plaque to the grower with the year of the award noted at the event mentioned above.