Online Program

An earthquake in the midwest: OSHA enforcement reveals faults in the world of agricultural safety

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Matthew Keifer, MD, MPH, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, Migrant Clinicians Network, Salisbury, MD
Iris Anne Reyes, MPH, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Patricia M. Juárez-Carrillo, PhD, MPH, Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Francisco Guerrero Silva, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Dennis Ray, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield, WI
Family dairy enterprises are becoming large dairy operations, replacing family labor with hired workers. This transition absorbs many immigrant, Hispanic, often undocumented workers into a high injury industry. En-route from family farm to medium-sized business, owners may carry internalized acceptance of hazards that make agriculture among the most dangerous US industries. Meanwhile, agricultural academic programs rarely train in safety management. Hispanic immigrant workers often have little experience handling large animals. With limited English and precarious legal status, they cannot or will not assert their rights to a safe workplace. Additionally, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is bridled by congressional limits on applicable standards and workplace enforcement. Thus, this relatively unregulated industry has created little demand for a capable safety consulting workforce until now. In 2012, Region 5 OSHA sent tremors through the industry when it launched a Local Emphasis Program (LEP) inspecting large Wisconsin dairies. Few trained agricultural safety professionals were found when the National Farm Medicine Center developed the Agricultural Safety Consulting service to advise farmers and train workers. With the Migrant Clinicians Network, a Spanish promotor-based safety curriculum was developed and tested. This session will provide an overview of the changing dairy industry in WI and the challenges resulting from the modernization, corporatization and transition to an immigrant workforce. We will highlight how an OSHA LEP influenced farm operations to address safety. In particular, we will discuss hazard abatement strategies, unique unresolved hazards and the training of workers.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe how the enforcement of safety and health regulation in agriculture motivated employers to address workplace safety and revealed gaping flaws in the agricultural safety workforce. Discuss possible solutions to the challenge that the new immigrant workforce presents to farmers and safety trainers. Identify several hazards that defy practical abatement in the dairy industry.

Keyword(s): OSHA, Agricultural Work Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Agricultural health and safety has been the main focus of my research for the past 20 years. I was the co-founder and co-director of the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center from 1994 until 2010. Then, I moved to become the Director of the National Farm Medicine Center. I am currently a co-director of the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center which focuses on health and safety of agricultural workers in the Midwest.
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.