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 https://www.osha.gov.

May 22, 1990

Salvador Sandoval, MD
Merced Family Health Center
Post Office Box 858
Merced, California 95430

Dear Dr. Sandoval:

Thank you for your letter of April 13, in which you referred to your productive March 13 meeting with Dr. Monahan and two staff members of the Directorate of Compliance Programs. You also expressed your concern with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) interpretation of the Field Sanitation Standard, particularly as it relates to the number of workers excluded from coverage. In addition, you stated that there were serious problems with enforcement of the standard, and that your clinic will conduct a survey of migrant clinics this summer to determine the extent of the enforcement problem with respect to the Field Sanitation Standard.

We share your commitment to safer and healthier working conditions for agriculture employees. Thank you for visiting with us and expressing your views. As my staff members informed you, OSHA is in the process of reviewing several aspects of the Field Sanitation Standard, including its scope of coverage provision. As you may be aware, OSHA's enforcement jurisdiction is limited to farms with 11 or more employees, except where farms have temporary labor camps. Our most recent (September 5, 1989) interpretation of the scope of coverage provision of the standard, enclosed for your information, is still in effect. This compliance memorandum, as you can see, clearly does not exclude or limit employee coverage below that of the Field Sanitation Standard. Should there be a change in this interpretation, it will be addressed in the upcoming compliance program directive.

Thank you for the copy of the September 19, 1988, news clipping that contained an interview with OSHA's Region IX Administrator, Frank Strasheim, in which he discussed the Agency's field sanitation activities in California. Mr. Strasheim was quoted in the article as saying that persons aware of field sanitation violations had not been notifying OSHA. In Fiscal Year 1989, Federal OSHA conducted 671 agricultural inspections in Region IX, (comprised of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands) including field sanitation inspections. Only 18 of those inspections were conducted as a result of complaints. The remaining inspections were the result of planned inspection activities. Federal OSHA conducts field sanitation inspections in California under a concurrent jurisdiction agreement with the State.

We share your commitment to safety and health issues facing agriculture employees, and appreciate your concern in bringing these issues to our attention. OSHA would be interested in the results of your upcoming survey designed to gauge the degree of enforcement and compliance with the Field Sanitation Standard. Enclosed is a copy of OSHA's 29 CFR Part 1928 Field Sanitation Final Rule. This publication may be of assistance to you during your upcoming survey. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know.


Patricia K. Clark
Director Designate
Directorate of Compliance Programs