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OSHA Oversight Does Not Extend to Small Farm Injuries

Farming is one of the deadliest industries in Wisconsin and across the U.S. with workers, many of them young, being killed by heavy machinery. Oftentimes, these accidents come about as a result of owners neglecting OSHA safety standards. Yet OSHA can do nothing about it in the case of small farms.

Specifically, farms with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from OSHA enforcement of safety protocols and OSHA inspections. Congress made this exemption in a rider attached to OSHA’s budget back in 1976. Because of this lack of OSHA oversight, small farm owners are protected from liability should any of their workers be injured or killed.

There have been several attempts to reverse this. In 1999, a senator proposed an amendment that would let OSHA investigate into the cause of death of minors on small farms. As this amendment would not have given OSHA the authority to impose penalties, the senator, seeing that it would likely fail, withdrew it.

In 2013, the American Farm Bureau Federation criticized the Obama administration for citing a small Nebraska farm for safety violations. In 2019, there was an attempt to remove the rider altogether. One representative noted how small farm injuries and deaths are affecting minorities as 76% of all farm workers identify as Hispanic or Latino. Yet this attempt was unsuccessful.

Those who are injured in construction accidents/farm accidents may want to see a lawyer to see how they can go about seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The lawyer may be able to assist with each step of filing the claim, and if the employer denies payment, the lawyer may help mount an appeal. There’s also a way for victims to settle their claim. Benefits should cover all medical expenses as well as provide wage replacement and coverage for short- or long-term disability leave.

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