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Small Wisconsin farms and their risk of work injury

A Wisconsin farm employee can face a wide range of dangerous situations that have the potential to lead to work injury on a daily basis. A worker who has experienced a work injury on a small farm may question the safety of their environment and seek professional help in collecting workers' compensation . Laws passed by Congress allow Wisconsin farms with less than 10 employees to remain exempt from inspections executed by OSHA, prohibiting certain regulations by the agency.

Exemption does not necessarily protect smaller farms from violations, however, as their operational process is not exempt. Records reveal there have been some recent citations made by OSHA against small Wisconsin farms for machinery that retained the potential to cause work injury to employees. Reports claim that a Wisconsin State Senator is against OSHA maintaining a regulatory presence on small family farms. Some lawmakers have also revealed their disdain for OSHA requiring proper safety equipment for employees on smaller farms.

Wisconsin OSHA documentation revealed that many of the grain entrapment work injury situations that occur and are reported on smaller farms are not investigated by the agency. OSHA claims to have documented a decrease in grain entrapment work injury by 67 percent since they began their preventative grain accident campaign. However larger farms have experienced an influx of work injury by workers being trampled by cattle, trapped beneath large mechanical tools and from falling or drowning.

Although Congress has passed laws regarding OSHA's reach within small farms, some may be required to provide caging around grain bins and ladders, changing the layout and functionality of their farms. A work injury resulting from a grain bin entrapment or being crushed by machinery can cause permanent disability or even death. A worker who has suffered a debilitating accident while on the job may choose to seek workers' compensation benefits for pain and suffering and their loss of wages.

Source:, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson wants OSHA to back off on family farms, Donovan Slack, Jan. 4, 2014

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