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OSHA – A summary of Laws and Regulations Affecting Agriculture

We have talked about the new OSHA reporting requirements recently, there are now more mandatory reportable “events” regardless of the number of employees. In addition to this, the fines for failure to report have increased from $1000 per incident to $5000 per incident.  The linked PDF from Dennis Murphy at Penn State discusses OSHA in agriculture.  For employers, one of the most important notes is, “Tractor Rollover Protection. Also known as the ROPS standard, ROPS have been required on all tractors operated by employees since 1976. OSHA regulations state that employers are required to provide safety operating instructions to employees when they start an assigned job and annually thereafter. Employers are to require seat belt usage by employees when they are operating a tractor equipped with a ROPS. The only exception to this standard is a low-profile tractor used in orchards, greenhouses, and other buildings. Training for employees should be comprehensive and cover topics about the tractor, safe operating procedures, and rules for tractor operation.” Bottom line—NEVER allow any employee to operate a tractor without ROPS, including seat-belt use (unless specifically exempt); and perform and document all the required training.

Remember that agriculture is not exempted from OSHA but that OSHA is prohibited to spend funds to enforce in most of agricultural production, however; if an employee is involved in a fatal or otherwise reportable incident then OSHA can enforce.

For more information beyond the attached publication, visit the Penn State Extension Website.

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