The state administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration office wants it known that his office has a good program to prevent agriculture-related accidents, unlike the federal OSHA office that has been accused of not spending much money on this issue.
Doug McVey said his office has been in the forefront of trying to prevent agriculture-related accidents and it's mainly because Utah is operating the OSHA program and not the federal government.His comments came in response to news reports about a Congressional study which shows that OSHA spends little money trying to prevent agriculture-related accidents.
The study said agriculture is the most hazardous occupation under the OSHA umbrella and the agency is spending more money on easier inspections of business such as construction at the expense of farm-related activities.
McVey said his agency has developed safety standards governing agriculture-related jobs that are much more extensive than those practiced by the federal agency. He said the federal standards don't deal much with safety while using farm equipment, but center on field sanitation.
Because farmers, as a group, are hard to pin down and work with on safety, McVey said his agency pays the Utah Farm Bureau $50,000 annually to help educate farmers about safety. He said the Farm Bureau is putting more than $100,000 of its own money into the program.
With Jerry Ferguson as the farm safety coordinator, the Farm Bureau has volunteers and its women's auxiliary to help with the farm safety program, that mainly is an educational program, McVey said. McVey said his agency's enforcement activities are confined to visiting the larger agriculture-related companies to look at machinery and housing for migrant workers.
Because there are many different types of machinery used on the farm, agriculture work can be dangerous. Although there were no farm-related fatalities of agriculture workers in 1987, there were 107 compensable accidents. A compensable accident in one that causes a person to be off work for at least three days.
Of the 107 total, 73 were related to crop and livestock work. The remainder were agriculture-related although accidents in the landscaping business and pet boarding are included in the farm category.
Last year, $339,059 in workmen's compensation wages went to those 73 people injured in crop and livestock-related accidents while another $413,370 was paid in medical benefits.
Although Salt Lake County is thought of as a non-farm county because of the heavy population, it nevertheless had the most accidents in 1987 with 38. Sprains were the most common type of farm injury followed by fractures, cuts and bruises.