Health & Safety, OSHA, Regulations & Compliance, Work Hazards

Does the OSHA Small Farm Exemption Cost Lives?

From, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, “Does the small farm exemption cost lives?” by Philip D. Somervell PhD, George A. Conway MD, MPH, 11 Mar 2011.

Article Abstract


Congress has exempted farms with fewer than 11 employees from enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Three states (California, Oregon, and Washington) do not observe the exemption.


We compared rates of fatal occupational injury in agriculture, by year, in 1993–2007, in California, Oregon, and Washington (aggregated), and the remaining states (as two aggregated groups): those with, and those without, state-designed occupational safety and health programs.


Fatality rates were approximately 1.6 to 3 times as high in both groups of states observing the small farm exemption as in the group of three states not observing it. Comparisons excluding the agriculture industry showed weaker differences.


The three states’ opting out of the small farm exemption may have had substantial direct effects. They may also reflect and/or encourage a generally more effective approach to occupational health and safety. Although alternative explanations must be considered, the stakes are high in terms of injury and loss of life; further investigation seems urgently indicated. Am. J. Ind. Med. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Article for purchase at:, “Does the small farm exemption cost lives?” by Philip D. Somervell PhD, George A. Conway MD, MPH, 11 Mar 2011.


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