OSHA steps up inspections on Wis. dairy farms

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Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 30 edition of Dairy Exec, a monthly e-newsletter published by Dairy Herd Management.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is stepping up enforcement efforts on dairy farms.

In early March, OSHA launched a local-emphasis program for Wisconsin dairy farms. The program is focused on protecting workers from hazards found on dairy farms, such as those related to manure storage, lack of vehicle roll-over protection, machine guarding, confined spaces, and animal handling.

"Far too many workers are injured and killed in preventable incidents at dairy farms in Wisconsin," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire, Wis. "This program will enable OSHA inspectors to visit dairy farms and ensure that all required measures are taken to protect workers."

Under the new program, OSHA will conduct comprehensive safety and health inspections at dairy farms with more than 10 non-immediate family member employees and those that have had an active temporary labor camp within the last 12 months. Each inspection will include detailed questions to gather facts about common hazards related to horizontal bunker silos, control of hazardous energy, skid-steer and tractor operations, and hazard communication.

See “Spate of fatal skid-steer accidents.”

Anthony Raimondo, agricultural labor attorney with the McCormick Barstow law firm in Fresno, Calif., warns, “Dairy producers should make sure they are aware of the workplace safety regulations that apply in their state. Some states have their own OSHA programs, such as California, while others rely on the federal OSHA for enforcement. The rules and enforcement policies can be different from state to state, and dairy producers must be sure to comply with the regulations that apply in their state.”

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