Upcoming OSHA farm inspections were a hot topic at DBA’s Expansion Symposium in Green Bay. Speaker Tom Drendel, Ag Safety Specialist at National Farm Medicine Center, spoke to producers about the Local Emphasis Program initiated in Wisconsin. The Local Emphasis Program calls for random inspections focusing on common safety and health hazards prevalent on dairy farms, including:
- Manure Storage Facilities and Collection Structures
- Dairy Bull and Cow Behavior/Worker Positioning
- Electrical Systems
- Skid-Steer Loader Operation
- Tractor Operation
- Guarding of Power Take-Offs (PTOs)
- Guarding of other Power Transmission and Functional Components
- Hazardous Energy Control while performing servicing and maintenance on equipment
- Hazard Communication
- Confined Spaces
- Horizontal Bunker Silos
OSHA compliance officers will be conducting comprehensive inspections on 12 farms throughout the state. Farms are eligible for OSHA inspection and enforcement if they have had more than 10 non-family employees during the last 12 months OR had an active temporary labor camp during the last 12 months, exempting small farming operations.
Citations for hazard communication are common during OSHA inspections on dairy farms. Hazard communication refers to the hazard of serious chemical ingestion, absorption, splash, fire and other hazards in existence around chemicals including but not limited to; teat dips, pharmaceuticals, footbaths and sanitation products.
In order to meet OSHA compliance and minimize risk around hazardous chemicals, employees should be trained in the handling and properties of chemicals. Chemical inventory and Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDSs) should be kept on the farm and easily accessible to locations where hazardous chemicals are used and stored.
OSHA citations come with hefty fines, so it is best to take a proactive approach. Many states offer consultation services, and extension agents can also be a valuable resource.
The need for safety and health training for employees goes beyond OSHA visits. Farm workers are exposed to many potentially dangerous situations, and following OSHA guidelines for the 12 common hazardous areas can greatly reduce your farm’s risk of accidents or fatalities and increase productivity.