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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

May 16, 1990

Ms. Shelley Davis Attorney at Law Migrant Legal Action Program, Inc. Suite 310 2001 S Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009

Dear Ms. Davis:

Thank you for your letter of March 21, in which you expressed your concerns about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) enforcement of the Field Sanitation Standard, and of the Hazard Communication Standard with respect to pesticides. You also offered the assistance of the migrant legal services network to assist the Agency in its location of fields for field sanitation inspection scheduling.

OSHA's upcoming program directive on Field Sanitation will address many of the issues you raise in your letter. Specifically, we will continue to conduct coordinated inspections with personnel from the Employment Standards Administration (ESA) Wage Hour Division and will pursue intra-Agency discussions as to utilizing the assistance of the migrant legal services network in locating fields for inspections.

We plan to maintain our current level of field sanitation inspections. In Fiscal Year 1989, 3,043 agricultural inspections were conducted in both Federal enforcement States and in States with OSHA-approved plans, of which 1,526 were exclusively field sanitation inspections. Over 900 inspections from the latter figure were conducted in Federal enforcement states, with the remainder being conducted in State-Plan states. The vast majority of those inspections were planned, that is, they were not conducted as a result of employee complaints or referrals from other agencies.

You requested clarification of OSHA's enforcement of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with respect to pesticides. We have temporarily ceased enforcement of the HCS for the limited coverage provided to farmworkers exposed to pesticides while working in the field until the issue of enforcement jurisdiction is resolved between OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFPA), EPA was given authority to promulgate and to enforce worker protection standards. OSHA has had similar authority under its HCS. Farm workers not in the fields who may be exposed to pesticides and those farm workers exposed to hazardous chemicals other than pesticides continue to be covered by the provisions of the HCS.

We expect to resolve the jurisdictional issue between OSHA and EPA in the near future. The final resolution of this jurisdictional issue may result in either agency assuming full or partial enforcement responsibility of the HCS.

If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Gerard F. Scannell Assistant Secretary