249906 Exclusion of agriculture from OSHA fall protection standards

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Virginia Ruiz, JD , Farmworker Justice, Washington, DC
Weeun Wang, JD , Farmworker Justice, Washington, DC
OSHA is undertaking a revision of its fall protection standards which mandate that ladders and other working surfaces conform to certain safety requirements. Historically, agricultural workers have been excluded from the majority of OSHA's workplace health and safety regulations, even though agriculture is one of the country's most dangerous occupations. Farmworkers are excluded from OSHA's current fall protection regulations and would continue to be excluded under OSHA's revised regulations as now proposed. Falls are among the leading causes of injury in agriculture, especially for orchard workers and others who frequently use ladders. Data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that thousands of agricultural workers are injured by falls every year. According to these data, the non-fatal fall-related injury rate among farmworkers in crop production in 2009 was 18.5 for every 10,000 workers slightly below the rate for construction workers and far higher than for the transportation, mining, or manufacturing industries. Data also indicates that the frequency of fall related deaths in agriculture is among the highest of any U.S. industry. According to the BLS, 157 farmworkers died from occupational falls between 2004 and 2009, and the fall fatality rate in agriculture last year was more than twice as high as those in transportation, manufacturing, or trade occupations. Presenters will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of operating effective fall safety programs for agricultural workers, as well as discuss their efforts to persuade OSHA to extend the proposed fall protection standards to agricultural employment.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
* Describe the risk of worker injury and death related to falls in agriculture * Discuss the feasibility of extending federal fall protection regulations to agricultural workers

Keywords: OSHA, Agricultural Work Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been an attorney at Farmworker Justice for over 10 years and have significant knowledge of OSHA regulations and of agricultural occupational hazards, including falls from ladders and other work surfaces.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.