County Ag News

OSHA Dairy Farm Local Emphasis Program


The Occupational Health and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) started inspecting selected farm dairy operations beginning in January 2012. A dairy may be selected for inspection if it meets one of two criteria; it currently employs or in the past 12 months has employed more than 10 employees or: if it currently has an active temporary labor camp activity or have had active temporary labor camps during the last 12 months.

The first inspections took place in January 2012 with a goal to complete 30 inspections by years end. Of the 15 inspections that actually took place, only two dairies were found to be in compliance.

Within the state of Wisconsin, a “dairy dozen”  12 items identified by the LEP for field inspections emerged. While these items were identified as common hazard areas, all producers would be well-served to take a closer look at these pieces of their operation:

Manure storage facilities and collection structure: Manure channels under the barn are considered a confined space. Open-air storage, too, may head down this road one day. It has limited entry/exit points and people are not meant to be there. When backing an agitator in, OSHA wants to see a barrier to block tractor tires from entering, but you must ensure your plan doesn’t violate other OSHA standards.

Dairy bull and cow behavior/worker positioning: Animal handling is a high hazard site. We need to look at barn lighting and the potential for slips, falls, and in winter, employee cold stress. The use of chemicals and pharmaceuticals are the greatest identified risk — but they are also starting to look for handrails and guards where appropriate.

Electrical systems: Most farms practice lockout procedures but need to add tag out. Dairies must also lessen their reliance on extension cords, which are identified as a high risk.

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