While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces safety regulations in workplaces in California, a loophole in the Occupational Safety and Health Act exists for small farms. OSHA is not allowed to investigate injuries and deaths that happen on small farms that have 10 or fewer employees.
When the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1976, Congress attached a rider to the law to exempt small farms from OSHA inspections and enforcement actions. This means that workers on small farms are largely unprotected despite working in potentially hazardous conditions. Many workers on small farms have died in accidents with machinery, grain elevators, and other incidents. Despite their deaths, OSHA cannot investigate what happened or enforce its safety regulations when the farms have 10 or fewer employees.
While small farms may have dangerous conditions, Congress has not taken action to remove the exemption so that the safety of small farms can be regulated. Because of this loophole, working on small farms continues to be dangerous for the employees.
People who are seriously injured at work on small farms or in other high-risk occupations might want to consult with experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers. The attorneys may help their clients to pursue all of the benefits to which they should be entitled after they have been injured while working. All employers in California must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage to protect their workers. In exchange for their access to workers’ compensation, employees are not allowed to file personal injury lawsuits against their employers. However, injured workers also do not have to prove that their employers were negligent to recover compensation. Workers’ compensation benefits may pay for all of the workers’ medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. If the workers are disabled, they might also recover disability benefits from workers’ compensation.