January 25, 2022

Do OSHA Standards Apply to Small or Family Farms?

Over 40 years ago, Congress gave small/family farms unique immunity from safety oversight. OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires that all employers provide a hazard free workplace that complies with OSHA’s safety and health hazards. However, the Appropriation Acts exempts small farming operations from the enforcement of all OSHArules and regulations.

Farming Operations are exempt from OSHA regulations when:

  • Employs 10 or fewer employees currently and during the past 12 months
  • Has not had an active temporary labor camp during the preceding 12 months

Note: Family members of farm employers are not always counted when determining the number of employees

field of grain

Issues to Consider

  • Employee Family Members

Whether or not family members are included in the overall employee count is not clearly defined. It is possible that it just means immediate family members. Which would mean any extended family members working for an employer would be included in the overall count. When establishing number of employees, consult with the Office of General Industry and Agriculture Enforcement

  • What Type of Business?

OSHA may consider all family members as employees if the farming operation is a corporation or liability company. In this case, OSHA rules and regulations may be used to identify safe and unsafe conditions on a farm.

What are Considered “Farming Operations”

OSHA defines “farming operation” as any operation involved in the raising of livestock or poultry, growing, or harvesting crops, and any other related activities conducted by a farmer on a farm. In July 2014, OSHA issued: “Policy Clarification on OSHAs Enforcement Authority at Small Farms.” This policy states that if an employer performs any activity on a small farm that is not a farming operation, is not exempt from enforcement.

For more information or questions on where small or family farms stand when it comes to OSHA Enforcement, please visit Hard Hat Training Series!