OSHA surprise N.Y. inspections, blessing or curse?

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Last year a Veracruz, Mexico native Kevin Robledo started working at Marks Farm in Lowville, N.Y., cleaning and milking cows. A few short weeks after he started, Robledo was alone when he spilled chemicals on his hands and face. This was not the first occasion Robledo was injured on the farm.

Feed According to NCPR, within the first two weeks of being hired, Robledo fell and another time he was pushed up against a metal bar by a cow.

After filing a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) an investigation ensued and Marks Farm was fined $500 for failing to train workers on how to handle hazardous chemicals.

According to the OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, it is required that employees be educated on the handling of hazardous chemicals, by their employer.  

The owners of Marks Farm did not fight the charges in the least bit and paid the fine. David Peck, co-owner of Marks Farm, was adamant that the company never wanted to see anything like the Robledo incident occur again.

Many workers are injured on farms each year. Eight people died in 2011 and four more in 2012 on New York farms, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The many injuries and deaths on farms in New York has prompted the OSHA to take action (2014-03 (CPL 2)). Calling the program a “Local Emphasis” the OSHA will perform surprise inspections to implement stricter safety rules.

The inspections begin in July and will continue for a three-month trial period, visiting dairy farms with 11 or more employees, or dairies with a temporary labor camp.

Although the inspections cite safety efforts some lawmakers are fighting to delay them. Congressman Bill Owens (NY) doesn’t want to see the inspections stop, he is only asking for time to help famers become educated on what safety implementations need to take place on their respective farms.

A webinar is available to the public, led by OSHA’s Ronald Williams. By watching the webinar dairy farmers have a chance to understand how the inspection process will work.

For more information on the inspections see the OSHA’s website.

Editor's note: Cornell University’s PRO-DAIRY program has developed extensive background information regarding New York OSHA inspections. For more information, read OSHA information for dairy farms and PRO-DAIRY e-alert: OSHA compliance update

Tell us your thoughts on these surprise inspections @DairyHerd

Source: North Country Public Radio

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