Safety on the Job

It is important to pay attention during your trainings on the job and be informed of how to work safely to avoid accidents. Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Dairy farmers have to work with heavy machinery as well as in close contact with animals.

Hazards related to this job include bruising or crushing injuries when handling animals, struck by or crushed by farm vehicles, slips, trips, and falls, noise from milking equipments, temperature extremes, chemical hazards, biological hazards, and ergonomic hazards. It is important to stay safe while you are working and this section provides resources on job safety, workers’ rights, and and labor laws.

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A guide from Migrant Health Clinicians about how to avoid muscle injuries at work

Employers and Employees Working Together

Cows in Barn eating

In our experience, farmers and employers want to create a work environment that is as safe as possible. We see farmers provide trainings and informational meetings about practices on their farms so that workers are well-informed and have everything they need to perform their jobs safely. We generally see a mutual trust between employers and employees where they communicate and work together to ensure safety on the job.

Regardless, there are some cases where there is not a safe work environment and workers are not able to communicate about safety issues with their employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created for instances like these. If you feel that you cannot communicate with your employer and advocate for your safety on the job, there is information below about how OSHA staff can help you.

Know Your Rights from OSHA*

*The US Department of Labor provides rules for farms to follow in order to provide a safe working environment. OSHA rules apply to all farms.  However, generally a farming operation is exempt from all OSHA inspection and enforcement activities if it employs 10 or fewer employees currently and at all times during the last 12 months. If a small farm engages in activities that are not related to farming operations and are not necessary to gain economic value from products produced on the farm, those activities are not exempt from OSHA enforcement.

Under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.  If you have concerns, you have the right to speak up about them without fear of retaliation. You also have the right to:

  • Be trained in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Be provided required safety gear, such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls
  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector
  • Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records
  • See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace