DOL addresses grain bin inspection issue

The Department of Labor has decided to withdraw enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) small farm grain bin guidance in a step towards compliance with the small farm exemption as required by law.

“Farm safety is a top-of-mind priority for our farmers. Throughout the country, state and county Farm Bureaus conduct safety training programs and work to ensure that everyone who is working on a farm is trained and safe,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We not only appreciate OSHA’s concern with grain bin safety, we are committed to grain bin and farm safety. But we also believe that the key to improving farm safety is a collaborative, cooperative process that was not helped by OSHA’s enforcement under the just-rescinded 2011 guidance document that was not consistent with the law.”

The effort came a s result of a push from congressional leaders concerned about the potential overreach of OSHA on farms.

“Farm Bureau appreciates the efforts on this issue by the House Education and Workforce Committee, including Worker Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-Mich).  We also commend Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) for coordinating bipartisan letters drawing attention to this important issue.  We encourage DOL to reach out to farm groups to help develop additional farm safety programs. Preventative measures would better serve OSHA’s and the farm community’s shared goal of farm safety.”

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