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Dairy Farms in Danger of Labor Law Non-compliance

17th August 2011
By Cecily in Legal
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Any farming job comes with some level of danger and dairy farming certainly is no exception. The agriculture industry ranks as one of the top industries for accidents and fatalities. In terms of injury prevention, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has mandated safety guidelines that farmers must meet in order to be in compliance with Federal and state labor laws. One of the biggest challenges is documenting a safety plan. While many dairy farms have precautionary safety measures, meetings and trainings in place, unless it’s written down, the government doesn’t consider the business to be in compliance.

According to OSHA, any dairy farm that employs over eleven employees is subject to OSHA standards, oversight and inspections. Although OSHA isn’t pushing the dairy industry for inspections, that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. OSHA’s goal is to create a safe work environment for all workers – regardless of industry. Dairy farmers who are out of compliance with OSHA standards can be fined heavily – from a few hundred up to tens of thousands of dollars.

OSHA can and will fine for any of the following violations:

• Lack of injury and illness prevention program (must be documented)

• Lack of work injury reporting

• Lack of fire extinguishers

• Lack of communication about and/or process when dealing with toxic, hazardous or harmful materials

• Lack of respiratory protection

• Lack of proper face and eye protection

• Lack of proper medical services or first aid

In addition, dairy farms must adhere to all Federal and State labor laws that apply within their industry. There are specific rules and regulations for agricultural minimum wage, as well as for migrant workforce. Labor law posters with such laws must be displayed where the farm’s workers can readily view them. A labor law poster for the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) must be displayed if the dairy farm employs migrant or seasonal workers. A federal labor law poster for with the Fair Labor Standards Act for Agricultural Workers must also be displayed. OSHA is looking to California and the regulations set forth on the California labor law poster for agricultural workers as a precedent for the rest of the country, considering that CA law mandates an injury and illness prevention plan (IIPP) as part of standard safety training. OSHA strives to make this plan federally mandated.

In the meantime, dairy farmers across the U.S. need to be increasingly cautious and take care to make sure that all labor law compliance is met and that all proper labor law posters are posted. This will help to ensure workforce safety, as well as peace of mind when it comes to possible surprise OSHA inspections.
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