The New York State Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA NYS) Local Emphasis Program (LEP) inspections have started. At least one central New York dairy farm was inspected during the last week of July under the OSHA LEP, and another inspection was conducted in eastern New York the first week of August. OSHA has six months to issue a report after an inspection, so it will likely be some time before we have any official information about what OSHA is keying in on.
Under the LEP, OSHA will not conduct a random inspection of a dairy that is actively involved with the New York Department of Labor On-site Consultation Program. This means that a farm has to have an active, open file with the DOL On-site Consultation Program. The file opens when the DOL consultant visits your operation, not when the farm requests the consultation.
Once the file is closed, after DOL has issued the report and the farm has addressed issues identified, the farm is once again subject to an LEP inspection by OSHA. OSHA inspectors are not likely to know who is working with DOL, so if OSHA shows up for an LEP inspection, farm managers need to inform the OSHA inspector of the DOL relationship upon arrival. The inspector will call DOL to confirm your status and will cancel or postpone the inspection if your file is open.
Tonya Van Slyke, Executive Director of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), confirmed with OSHA officials that if a workplace injury occurs while a farm that is subject to OSHA jurisdiction is involved with the On-site Consultation Program, OSHA can do a targeted inspection at the place where the injury occurred. Should an OSHA inspector stop in after an injury, farm managers should confirm the reason for the visit, and also inform the OSHA inspector that there is an open file with the DOL On-site Consultation Program. Managers should also thoughtfully plan the travel route to the injury location.
In a related matter, at a recent training for OSHA inspectors that NEDPA and PRO-DAIRY staff participated in, one inspector asked if LLC shareholder/employees are included in the family employee exemption for farm operations. OSHA officials have confirmed that for agriculture, all immediate family members that fit the OSHA definition are exempt from being counted as employees, regardless of how the business is organized. Farms that are LLC’s will want to remember this in case there is a question of OSHA jurisdiction upon an inspection.
At the same training, there was lots of discussion about bunk silo safety concerns. With so many bunk layouts across farms, we recommend that producers give thought to their own condition to see how to make activities related to filling, packing, covering and uncovering can be made safer. We are currently looking for safe, practical options, and will share what we find in the coming months.
We are also hearing about various individuals that are calling or stopping on farms that are offering inspection or training services. At least one farm contact reported by a dairy farmer directly to PRO-DAIRY staff claimed to represent an organization that, for a fee, would help the farm prepare for the upcoming OSHA inspections. In this case, the farm is exempt from OSHA enforcement and though they had taken steps to address safety issues, they knew that they did not need to hire an outside service. However, the initial phone message sounded official and the farm did not feel that it was clearly identified as a sales call.
The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH should be the first contact of choice for many farms for health and safety training needs regardless of size. Be sure to require unfamiliar callers or especially visitors to clearly identify who they work for (provide identification and supervisor contact) and the purpose of the call or visit. OSHA inspectors carry an official badge, they understand that there are imposters, and they also understand that you have the right to contact their supervisor to make sure they are legitimate.
New York State OSHA Work Group
PRO-DAIRY Visit ansci.cornell.edu/ prodairy/
Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) Visit NEDPA.org
New York Farm Bureau. Visit NYFB.org
NY Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH). Visit nycamh.com
Cornell Cooperative Extension. Visit cce.cornell.edu