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Standards Board Releases Revised Night Work Proposal

Bryan Little, Farm Employers Labor Service

Dec. 5, 2019

On Dec. 3, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board released a revised version of the proposed “Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness,” the most recent iteration of a regulation the Board has worked on since 2014.

The Dec. 3 version clarified that illumination required for agricultural tasks performed at night can be provided by employers using equipment lighting, hands-free personal light, area lighting, or any combination of those methods.  The prior version of the regulation was unclear as to whether hands-free personal lighting could be used to satisfy illumination requirements.

The Dec. 3 draft also clarified that “outdoor agricultural operations” other than those involving the use of sharp tools can be illuminated to five foot-candles; tasks involving use of sharp tools are required to be illuminated to 10 foot-candles.  Prior versions of the regulation were unclear whether all agricultural tasks had to be illuminated to 10 foot-candles.

Employer concerns about compliance with local light pollution ordinances, impacts on nocturnal wildlife, and air quality issues related to use of portable gasoline- or diesel-powered generators were generally ignored or disregarded by Standards Board staff in responses to stakeholder comments.  The Standards Board staff also adopted patently absurd cost estimates to the effect that the regulation will apply to fewer than 1500 farms for only 2 months of the year.  The Standards Board’s regulatory impact analysis will have to be approved by the Department of Finance before the regulation can be finalized.

The revised version of the regulation is subject to a 15-day comment period which will end Dec. 20.  The Standards Board also meets on Dec. 19 in Rancho Cordova, where stakeholders will be able to offer verbal comments.  You can view the revised proposal at this link and related documents at this link.

If you have questions or comments, please share them with us at FELS at 1-800-753-9073 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..