OSHA’s Grain Handling Regulations

March 1, 2014 01:37 AM

The following information is a Web Extra from the pages of Farm Journal. It corresponds with the article "OSHA and Grain Farms." You can find the article in Farm Journal's 2014 March issue.

Provided by John Dillard, Farm Journal Columnist:

OSHA has developed regulations for grain handling facilities. These regulations generally apply to both grain elevators and on-farm storage. Whether OSHA has authority to inspect and enforce against grain storage facilities on farms that do not operate temporary labor camps or employ fewer than 10 employees is not resolved (see discussion below).
OSHA’s regulations for grain handling facilities can be found here at 29 C.F.R. 1910. The regulations contain 3 appendices (A, B, and C) that further explain OSHA’s regulations regarding grain handling.
Small Farm Exemption
OSHA has created a substantial amount of controversy regarding what it considers fair game when it comes to inspecting on-farm storage at grain farms. For several years, Congress has passed appropriations (funding) bills that contain a "rider" that prohibits OSHA from enforcing its regulations against farms unless the farm (1) operates a temporary labor camp or (2) employs more than 10 employees.
OSHA published a guidance memo in 2011 which explained that the agency believed it had the authority to inspect and enforce against "grain handling facilities" that engaged in postharvest activities, such as drying. OSHA did not believe that these post-harvest activities were precluded by Congress’ small farms rider. In other words, OSHA believed it’s regulations for grain handling facilities were in force regardless of a farm’s size. OSHA’s memo explaining its legal position can be accessed here.
In light of the controversy generated by its enforcement actions against a small farm, OSHA has since withdrawn this memorandum. However, OSHA has not dropped its pending enforcement action against a small farm and has not articulated its new position regarding inspection and enforcement against facilities located on small farms.



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