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OSHA Seeks To Clarify Grain Bin Inspection Policy

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Spencer, IA: (Jan. 23, 2014) – A top administrator with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held a press conference this week to clear up confusion on OSHA’s policy regarding grain handling facilities on small farms.

This follows the revelation that a Nebraska farm faces a potential $132,000 fine following a 2011 inspection of the farm’s grain bins. OSHA began examining more grain elevators in 2010 after a string of fatalities. A 2011 memo to field inspectors also implied inspectors could broaden inspections regarding post-harvest handling of grain.

But Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns and 42 other senators wrote OSHA to argue the agency is violating a 1976 appropriations bill that excluded farms with fewer than 10 employees from being subject to OSHA inspections.

OSHA Deputy Assistant Jordan Barab says the agency is working to clear up confusion on how OSHA handles small farms. Barab told reporters on Wednesday, “We take the small-farm 1976 (exclusion) very seriously. It has never been our intent, our practice or our policy to target small farms for inspection……………”

Barab said OSHA’s focus on grain handling began following 57 reported grain handling accidents in 2010 that resulted in 31 fatalities.

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