OSHA opened its inspection in October 2009 after learning from the Dunn County, Wis., sheriff's department of a fatality reportedly due to the immersion drowning of a migrant farmhand who worked and lived at the farm. As a result of that inspection, OSHA has cited the farm for six serious and one other-than-serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.
“Our investigation at this farm reinforced the fact that farming is dangerous work and farm owners and operators need to understand, search out and correct the hazards their workers face,” said OSHA Area Director Mark Hysell in Eau Claire, Wis.
OSHA’s serious citations address the failure to provide a guarding mechanism to prevent power driven machinery from accidentally falling into the earthen manure storage facility, alteration of seat belts on that machinery, lack of adequate training and instruction for operators of the skid steer machinery, potential amputation issues and electrical shock hazards. Proposed penalties total $7,200.
The Val-O-Mo Farm covers approximately 550 acres including a variety of farm buildings such as corn bins, feed storage bunkers, a milking parlor and multiple barns. OSHA has not inspected this farm before. While many farming operations, particularly those with 10 or fewer employees, are exempt from OSHA regulations, those that have maintained a temporary labor camp within the last 12 months are not exempt and are subject to all OSHA regulations.