Posts Tagged: Risk
Some county health authorities have begun to modify local shelter-at-home orders for COVID-19 and relax restrictions on low-risk activities. To ensure that we continue to protect the health and safety of our people and our communities, UC ANR has developed UC ANR Safety Standards for Resuming In-Person Activity, Stage 2 to outline protocols for our programs and work locations.
The safety standards are informed by state, county and UC best practices, and are intended to help UC Cooperative Extension directors, Research and Extension Center directors and statewide program leaders plan for the eventual resumption of some in-person activities.
For those counties that have authorized return to in-person activity under Stage 2, UC ANR directors are now required to document their plans for in-person work activity with the ANR Emergency Response team based on the safety standards. Local plans may vary from county to county, and may change over time to be more or less restrictive as the impact of reopening unfolds.
It is important to remember that the state is allowing for the resumption of limited onsite operations. UC ANR employees and volunteers who can still work or engage remotely should continue to do so until Governor Newsom completely lifts California's stay-at-home order and UC ANR advises it is appropriate to return to in-person operations.
ANR directors contributed to the development of ANR's safety standards, and we've asked them to help address questions and concerns and to reinforce the steps being taken to provide a safe working environment.
“Throughout this process, the safety and health of ANR's employees, volunteers and clientele are the top priority as we resume in-person activities,” said Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services.
In general, ANR will be taking a slow and deliberate approach to expanding in-person activities, and most of us will continue to work remotely for the immediate future.
Several questions about resuming in-person activities were answered during the ANR town hall meeting on May 28. A recording of that town hall will be posted at https://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/All_Hands.
FAQs have been developed to address questions asked during the May 28 Town Hall meeting concerning safety measures related to COVID-19, budgetary impacts and more. Please visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/safety/files/327731.pdf to read the questions and answers.
For resources related to COVID-19, visit https://ucanr.edu/covid19.
- Identify potential exposures to harmful air quality caused by wildfire smoke (i.e. monitor Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasts and daily levels during wildfire events).
- Communicate wildfire smoke hazards, air quality conditions, protective measures, and encourage feedback from employees.
- Train employees who are reasonably anticipated to be affected by unhealthy air quality caused by wildfire smoke.
- Control harmful exposure to outdoor workers by various methods as feasible. During unhealthy air quality events, these control measures may include working indoors in a building with filtered air, limiting the duration and intensity of outdoor work, or use of a filtering respirator when other means are not effective or practical to control exposure. The standard requires that when the AQI for PM2.5 reaches 151 or higher, the employer must make respirators available for employees to use if they must work outdoors.
UC ANR Risk & Safety Services has developed guidance and training on how to comply with this new regulation at http://ucanr.edu/protectfromwildfiresmoke as well as a PowerPoint training for safety coordinators to share with employees. Risk & Safety Services is also procuring respirators that will be shipped to all ANR locations.
“Since this is a brand-new regulation, we expect that additional guidance will come out from Cal/OSHA in the next few months,” said Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services.
In addition to this Cal/OSHA standard, a team from all UC campuses and ANR has been developing a decision matrix for guiding how UC locations will respond to unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke. This decision matrix will include various types of activities, such as outdoor workers, volunteers, athletics, camps, and youth activities. We will share this additional information as the decision matrix is finalized.
If you have questions about the new wildfire smoke rules, please contact Brian Oatman at (530) 750-1264 or email@example.com.
UC ANR Risk & Safety Services has prepared Safety Note #199 PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS (PSPS) to provide tips and links to additional information.
Here are the three most important things to know about public safety power shutoffs:
1. The decision and action to turn off power is made by each energy company and is based on a combination of factors, including high winds, red flag warnings, low humidity, dry vegetation serving as fuel, fire/wind threat to electric infrastructure, on-the ground observations, and overall risk to public safety. Monitor these conditions in your immediate area and be prepared to act. Visit http://prepareforpowerdown.com to learn more. Additionally, the California Public Utilities Commission has posted maps of areas they have determined to have the greatest fire threat https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/FireThreatMaps/. You can review these maps to better understand the potential fire threat at your location and other locations that you visit for research, extension or other activities.
2. Sign up for alerts! Update your personal and office location contact information with your local energy company. You can do so by contacting the company, visiting their website, or by visiting http://prepareforpowerdown.com. If you are alerted of a possible shutdown, look for more detailed information from your utility company's website or social media accounts to better understand how the shutdown may affect you. A PSPS will usually affect a specific area or neighborhood, not an entire city or county. In some cases, the utility will post maps of the affected area.
3. If your office is closed or affected due to a PSPS or other emergency, directors or office managers should notify ANR Risk & Safety Services by contacting Brian Oatman (firstname.lastname@example.org). If employees aren't able to work due to a natural disaster or emergency, ANR Human Resources (email@example.com) should also be notified so that arrangements may be made to track and report employee leave time during the emergency.
UC VP Glenda Humiston, 4-H member Melina Granados of Riverside County and UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland gave the UC regents a presentation about UC ANR's community outreach and impact. The Public Engagement & Development Committee meeting was held at the UCSF–Mission Bay Conference Center on Jan. 24, 2018, in San Francisco.
Opening the discussion, Humiston gave an overview of ANR, explaining that for 150 years ANR has been bringing the power of UC directly to the people in all California counties. Melina, who was born in Mexico, talked about her role as president of the Eastside Eagles 4-H club and what she has learned. Leland described joint projects between UC Merced and ANR in climate adaptation, nutrition and drone technology research.
Watch the 25-minute recording of the UC ANR presentation to the regents below, or visit https://youtu.be/ptFS8HwlsjE.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, can improve precision agriculture by using sensed environmental data to “learn” and continually adapt, VP Glenda Humiston told the Little Hoover Commission at a hearing in Sacramento on Jan. 25.
The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing the impacts of artificial intelligence. While there is no singular definition, artificial intelligence encompasses a broad range of technologies that seek to approximate some aspect of human intelligence or behavior.
Throughout its study, the commission will consider the potential policy role of California state government in areas such as regulation, workforce development and retraining.
Humiston was asked to give a statement on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector.
“California's working landscapes face some critical challenges; among those are drought, climate change, air quality, soil health, pests, pathogens and invasive species,” she said. “Additionally, rural/urban conflicts and urban sprawl continue to reduce available farm land and make viability of food production more difficult.
“Of importance to today's hearing, California's labor-intensive crops are facing increasing difficulty accessing necessary labor – both skilled and unskilled. This situation has led growers and universities to seek solutions through mechanization, automation and other new technologies.”
She sees opportunities in precision agriculture for growers and ranchers to more precisely manage their operations by using site- and crop-specific data gathered by new technologies.
“Artificial intelligence improves this further by using the sensed environmental data to ‘learn' and continually adapt to ever-changing conditions as it receives data that strengthens the computer's ‘intelligence,'” she said.
Humiston also outlined some of the challenges to harnessing the power of AI for agriculture.
“Artificial intelligence is extremely difficult in agriculture because of the huge amount of variability in environmental conditions across a single field,” she said. “This requires many sensors, complex algorithms, and large real-time data processing – all integrated and working together to inform decisions and actions.”
In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, the vast majority of the 1,896 experts anticipated that robotics and artificial intelligence will “permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025.” The commission's artificial intelligence project will investigate the shape and speed of these changes in California and in society.
Through its public process, the commission intends to study the key challenges of artificial intelligence in California, its economic implications and how it can be used to solve societal ills. The commission will review issues such as justice, equity, safety and privacy. The project will consider recent studies on workforce impacts, which could include both job creation and job displacement. Possible mitigations and worker protections will be discussed as will examples of efforts to plan and prepare for innovations and labor transformations.
To read Humiston's full testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, visit http://www.lhc.ca.gov/sites/lhc.ca.gov/files/CurrentStudies/ArtificialIntelligence/WrittenTestimony/HumistonJan2018.pdf.