Regulatory agency backtracks, again.
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OSHA yanked from its website a 2011 memorandum that directed its inspectors to check farm grain facilities for compliance with worker safety measures. Farm groups and farm-state lawmakers argued successfully that the inspections violated a long-standing appropriations ban against OSHA enforcement activities on small farms. A provision in the FY 2014 omnibus spending package reiterated the ban and required OSHA to consult with USDA on the issue.
OSHA, in a letter to the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said it will issue new guidance after consulting with USDA and on Jan. 28 removed the 2011 memo from the website to "avoid any confusion in the meantime." OSHA officials then held a preliminary call with USDA on Jan. 31 to discuss the new guidance. OSHA again noted that field personnel have been instructed to consult with headquarters before deciding whether farms are exempt from safety requirements.
Brian Kennedy, an assistant secretary of labor, said in the letter that OSHA "fully intends to comply with the small farms exemption."