The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently established a local emphasis program to protect workers from hazards found on Wisconsin dairy farms, such as those related to manure storage, lack of vehicle roll-over protection, machine guarding, confined spaces and animal handling.
According to Wisconsin Dairy Farm Census of Agriculture data, an estimated 34,000 employees work on the state’s dairy farms. Wisconsin currently has nearly 12,000 licensed dairy producers, who generate more than 26 billion pounds of milk annually. Approximately 40 percent of hired farm laborers are immigrants, who may be less familiar than other workers with safety and health rights and responsibilities.
Since 2006, OSHA has conducted five fatality inspections at dairy farms in Wisconsin. Hazards cited have been related to animal handling, tractor rollover protection and manure pits.
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.