Thursday, January 23, 2014

In response to claims of over-regulation, OSHA says it will work to clarify regulations for small farms

After being accused by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) of "ignoring 35-year-old provisions in fining a small Nebraska farm for improper grain storage," the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday that it "will work to clarify its regulations regarding grain storage on small farms," Aarian Marshall reports for Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter.

Grain-bin accidents and deaths have been a major concern in recent years, with 57 entrapments and 31 deaths in 2010, which has led to a greater call for education and awareness, and while numbers have dropped, there were still 19 entrapments and eight deaths in 2012, Marshall writes. Last year, within weeks of each other, two Iowans were trapped in grain bins, with one dying.

"At issue is language included in appropriations bills since 1976 that exempts farming operations with 10 or fewer employees from regulations enforced with OSHA funds," Marshall writes. "Johanns says many of these small farms have grain storage bins, and use them as part of standard post-harvest activities exempted by the rider."OSHA says most small farms, even those with grain storage facilities, should be exempt from regulations because of the appropriations language. But the agency says it is also working to make the rules clearer for government inspectors and producers alike." (Read more; subscription may be required, but a trial is available)

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