Although he's most familiar with violations among California dairies, workplace safety expert Rick Adams says Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors tend to find the same problems at dairy farms nationwide.
OSHA says that dairies account for a higher incidence of accidents over the general workforce. The most frequent dairy injuries involve hands and fingers, backs, legs and knees. These often result in employees missing work and, ultimately, higher insurance premiums. That's not what any employer wants, says Adams, of Winton Ireland Strom & Green.
Make sure your dairy avoids these top 10 workplace problems identified by California's OSHA inspectors:
1. Not having a proper injury and illness prevention program.
2. Lacking a written heat-related illness program. "Nine out of 10 dairies don't have a written protocol,” Adams says.
3. Not reporting and recording work injuries. You must report the following events within eight hours: serious injury or illness; loss of life; limb loss, amputation or permanent disfigurement; hospitalization of more than 24 hours. Use the OSHA 300 and 300A logs.
4. Not mounting or tagging portable fire extinguishers.
5. Inadequate communication about use of hazardous chemicals. Label all hazardous materials, provide safety data sheets for each chemical and document employee training.
6. Not controlling potentially hazardous energy (lockout/tagout). Warning signs and other procedures should safeguard employees from unexpected energization or start-up of machinery and equipment.
7. Not providing personal protective equipment, such as goggles, gloves and aprons, for handling chemicals.
8. Not properly guarding openings. Open pits and drains need signs and coverage.
9. Lacking proper updated permits to operate air tanks. An air compressor over 1½ cu. ft. requires a permit. "If it's in the back of your pickup, strap it down,” Adams says.
10. Not providing and posting warning signs and protocols for confined spaces.