Partners in Prevention: How NYCAMH Built Skills on NY Dairy Farms to Improve Safety and OSHA Compliance

A Time for Action. New York dairy farmers had less than a year to prepare for the OSHA Local Emphasis Program (LEP).  NYCAMH moved quickly to make sure that they were ready and that New York farms are safe places to live and work.

This article was developed for the 2015 NYFVI annual report. More information can be found here.

In the fall of 2013, OSHA announced a new LEP for New York dairy farms. This meant that starting July 1, 2014, farms would be subject to unannounced safety inspections, with all aspects of the operation eligible for scrutiny.

New York’s agriculture community quickly formed an OSHA Work Group, including representatives from the New York Farm Bureau, Pro-Dairy, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Northeast Dairy Producers Association and NYCAMH. After developing a plan, the group turned to Farm Viability for funding through its Focus grant program, designed to help the agriculture community quickly respond to emerging needs.

While NYCAMH has long provided safety training on farms, the Focus grant funding helped the organization significantly increase the amount of assistance they were able to provide directly to dairy farmers and prepare them for possible inspections. The first step was to assemble the necessary materials, staff, and infrastructure to handle the increase in demand for their services. 12 OSHA approved policy templates were developed for distribution to farms, the number of available trainers increased to 21, and a Dairy Safety Program hotline was created.

Crystal Grimaldi of Ideal Dairy Farms, Inc in Hudson Falls NY, is one of the many beneficiaries of NYCAMH’s efforts. The Ideal Dairy Farms, Inc. team began working with NYCAMH shortly after the OSHA LEP was announced and quickly learned the farm had room for improvement.

A NYCAMH representative came to the farm and conducted a LEP preparation walkthrough, highlighting opportunities for improvement. NYCAMH also provided bilingual training, confined space awareness and signage, and tractor safety training. A hazard communication program and guidelines for documentation were also developed.

The result? Ideal Dairy Farms, Inc. came away from their OSHA inspection with minimal violations, saving them money; more importantly, the owners can take pride in knowing their farm is a safer place for everyone to work and live.

“Maintaining a safe environment to work and live has always been important on our farm, but we had lots of room for improvement. NYCAMH gave us invaluable knowledge, guidance and training, inspiring conversations and thoughts on safety that will stay with us forever. Improvement is constant; our inspection performance was positive, but insignificant when compared to the magnitude of positive changes made on our farm. Thank you NYCAMH!”

Crystal Grimaldi. Ideal Dairy Farms, Inc.,
Hudson Falls, NY

To date, NYCAMH has successfully conducted 65 Dairy Farm LEP preparation walkthroughs and 132 worker safety training sessions in English and 244 worker safety training sessions in Spanish.