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Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
compliance visit on a vessel, OSHA inspectors do not determine whether life rafts conform to CFIVSA regulations, which are subject to USCG authority, but will examine such issues as matters of fall-protection safety.
A complex set of occupational safety standards apply to the fishing industry, reflecting in part, the large variance in types of commercial fishing vessels. Regulations regarding specific types of lifesaving and other equipment, training, and workplace protective standards are determined by a vessel’s size or the number of onboard personnel. Thus, shorter vessels or those carrying few workers are not held to the same standard as larger vessels with more workers.
Commercial fishing boat and diving operations with 10 or fewer employees have been exempted from OSHA safety inspections, as in agriculture, by an annual appropriations rider in Congress (Noll, 1994). Also statutorily exempt from the FLSA minimum wage requirement is “any employee employed in the catching, taking, propagating, harvesting, cultivating, or farming of any kind of fish, shellfish, crustacea, sponges, seaweeds, or other aquatic forms of animal and vegetable life, or in the first processing, canning or packing such marine products at sea as an incident to, or in conjunction with, such fishing operations, including the going to and returning from work and loading and unloading when performed by any such employee …”11
Forestry industry workers are subject to the OSHA act12 and the FLSA. But forestry and logging workers employed by a firm with eight or fewer employees are exempt by statute from the overtime pay requirements of the FLSA.13 States with major logging industries also have substantial regulatory and oversight responsibilities, as approved under agreement with OSHA. A number of states—for example, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington—have developed their own safety standards for forestry and logging workers. In fact, Oregon’s logging code was established well before enactment of the OSHA act in 1970.
An unusual aspect of forest work is the contracting of some activities by private-sector employers and the USDA Forest Service to labor contractors. The employer of record in such a circumstance is often a very small business with small assets, if any. The vastness of forest activities makes it difficult to regulate or provide timely oversight of them. Many of the tasks performed by the workers are identical with agricultural tasks: planting, thinning, and weeding. MSAWPA regulation therefore applies to contract forest workers.