Region 5 News Release: 10-349-CHI
March 29, 2010
Contact: Brad Mitchell or Scott Allen
US Labor Department's OSHA fines Elmwood, Wis., dairy farm following investigation into worker's death
ELMWOOD, Wis. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to Val-O-Mo Farm Inc. in Elmwood following an investigation into the death of a migrant farmhand at the location.
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 announced today it 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. This farm has not previously been inspected by OSHA. 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.