OSHA has put the Wisconsin agricultural industry on notice – we’re inspecting farms. Currently, OSHA has a Local Enforcement Program (LEP) for grain operations and are on year of a dairy LEP. A common question is “can they come to my farm for an inspection? And if yes, what does an OSHA inspection involve.” The first step to answering these questions means understanding more about OSHA.
OSHA and Employer Responsibilities
If you employ 1 or more persons, you have the legal responsibility to assure safe and healthful working conditions under the William-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. An appropriation rider to the Act prevents the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from spending any funds to issue or enforce any regulations that apply to any person who farms and employs 10 or fewer employees.
This amendment does not eliminate the requirement that an employer comply with the act, since the amendment does not eliminate rules or regulations. It only states that OSHA cannot spend funds to prescribe, issue, administer or enforce the agricultural regulations for employers of 10 or fewer people, except for those who have temporary labor camps. Nor does the amendment eliminate the possibility that an employee could use the regulations in a lawsuit against an employer. For this reason, all employers should comply with the act and provide their employees with a safe and healthful place to work.
Three general responsibilities as an employer for your employees’ safety are:
- To comply with the agricultural safety standards;
- To comply with record keeping and other reporting responsibilities, such as reporting accidents, posting of a citation, etc.; and
- To comply with the general duty clause.
Revisions in OSHA rules and regulations are probable as the U.S. Department of Labor determines the need for and implements additional standards. Complete rules and regulations can be accessed at www.osha.gov .