• Standard Number:
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

October 19, 1973

William A. Harding, Esq.
Nelson, Harding, Marchetti,
Leonard & TateV P.O. Box 82028
Lincoln, Nebraska 68501

Dear Mr. Harding:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of August 7, 1973, in which you requested our opinion as to whether the production of sod, and the installation of sod as a minor incident to the production of sod, are agricultural operations within the meaning of 29 CFR 1910.267.

On the basis of your letter and of a telephone conversation on September 14 with one of our staff attorneys, these facts have been established. The production of sod consists of fertilizing and seeding large tracts of land in the fall. During the following spring and summer the sod is re-fertilized and otherwise prepared for harvesting. During the subsequent fall, the sod is harvested. Installation of sod consists of no more than fertilizing the soil and rolling down the sod. This work is frequently done by the employees who also grow and harvest the sod. The initial preparatory work is performed by others although sometimes minor additional grading may be necessary.

As you know, section 1910.267 does not define "agricultural operations." The Assistant Secretary of Labor has determined whether particular activities are included in the phrase on a case-by-case basis, with the guidance of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1972 (SIC). However, the classification in the manual is not determinative. It is also necessary to consider the various circumstances of each case, such as the nature and purpose of the operations involved, the character of the place where they are performed, the general type of activities there conducted, and the relation of the operation to other operations which are clearly agricultural.

Applying these tests to the facts in your case, we think that sod production is an agricultural operation because it is essentially the growing of grass on farms, which is commonly considered an agricultural operation. And, of course, as you point out, it is classified under agriculture in the SIC. The nature of sod installation is not so clear. However, because it is a minor incident to the production of sod rather than part of a landscaping operation which includes principally construction activities, is performed by the grower of sod with employees engaged in both the growing and installation of sod, and because some activities, like fertilizing, are closely related to the growing process, we have concluded that the installation of sod is also an agricultural operation. Therefore, both the production and the installation of sod are agricultural operations in the case you put.

As you have correctly noted in your letter, an agricultural operation not covered by any of the standards listed in section 1910.267(a) is covered by the general duty clause in section 5(a)(1) of the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which, in general, requires that employees be provided a workplace free from recognized hazards.

We hope we have answered your question.


Benjamin Mintz
Associate Solicitor for
Occupational Safety and Health

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.