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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.
December 2, 1999
The Honorable Jo Ann Emerson
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC 20515
Attn: Serena Lowe
Dear Congresswoman Emerson:
Thank you for your October 26, 1999 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Assistant Secretary. You forwarded a letter from Nancy Anderson of Cape Girardeau, Missouri regarding safety regulations for farm workers.
OSHA's agricultural regulations may be found in 29 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1928. Although OSHA has fewer safety and health standards for agricultural operations than it has for general industry or construction, if a specific standard does not exist for a serious hazard, OSHA can use its statutory General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act) to issue citations to the employer and propose penalties.
Some of Ms. Anderson's concerns deal with toilet facilities, drinking water, and worker safety when using dangerous machinery. OSHA's Field Sanitation standard (§1928.110) requires employers in agricultural operations to provide sufficient toilet facilities, handwashing facilities, potable drinking water (suitably cool and in sufficient amounts) to their employees. Also, the Guarding of Farm Field Equipment and Farmstead Equipment standard (§1928.57) requires, among other things, that employers instruct their employees on the safe operation and service of the covered equipment.
Since 1977 OSHA has been limited by a rider on its appropriations bill as to which small employers it can inspect. Generally OSHA cannot inspect farms that have 10 or fewer employees and no temporary labor camp activity within 12 months. Also, immediate family members of the farm employer are not counted as employees. See the following Table [excerpted from OSHA Instruction CPL 2-0.51J, Enforcement Exemptions and Limitations under the Appropriations Act] for more detail.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the registration and regulation of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA's regulations set forth extensive requirements concerning the labeling and application of pesticides, which, among other things, includes personal protective equipment, pesticide safety training, decontamination, and restricted entry intervals for workers (see EPA's Worker Protection Standard at 40 CFR Part 170).
If Ms. Anderson is aware of any serious hazards in a particular workplace, she may file a complaint by calling or writing the closest OSHA area office, or, if it involves pesticides, the local EPA office. The contact information for OSHA's area office closest to Cape Girardeau, Missouri is provided below:
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
911 Washington Avenue, Room 420
St. Louis, Missouri 63101
Telephone: (314) 425-4249
Toll Free: (800) 392-7743
Again, thank you for your letter. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850.
Charles N. Jeffress