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Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
produce more than one commodity. NIOSH also observed that although equipment dealers have generally resisted safety legislation, some have helped with interventions by selling safety equipment and accessories.
Current Regulatory Environment: AFF sector regulation is spread across several federal agencies, and there are large gaps in the coverage and enforcement of regulation. Agricultural operations are addressed in specific OSHA standards for agriculture and general industry; however, restrictions set through the appropriations process limit enforcement of regulations to operations that employ more than 10 workers. Similar limitations apply to regulation of commercial fishing. Regulation at the state level has varied: It has been somewhat effective in states such as California and Washington with a long history of labor organizing or workforce activism, and less effective in states where self-employed labor is dominant. With respect to the latter, a notable exception is rules requiring the use of slow-moving vehicle signs on farm vehicles traveling slower than 25 mph now in place in 49 states. Most AFF workers are not covered by workers’ compensation programs or do not work for entities that are required to report injuries and illnesses, so few data are available to estimate injury and illness rates and economic costs. Several federal agencies have regulatory responsibilities for portions of AFF operations: EPA regulates pesticide applicators, DOL enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, USCG enforces standards under the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act, and the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration, and EPA oversee aerial applications of pesticides and fertilizers.
SOURCE: NIOSH, 2006a.
of products that a region can produce, the amount harvested, and the number of workers employed. The AFF Program can and needs to anticipate policy changes, but it is difficult to predict how the changes will affect worker safety and health.
Over the course of its information gathering, the committee came to understand the degree to which the AFF Program is undergoing change as part of NIOSH’s reorganization effort in conjunction with NORA 2 and by virtue of its self-scrutiny in preparation for this committee’s evaluation. The program identified new research goals and named new leadership in 2006 as it prepared for this evaluation. The program intends to develop a strategic plan through its newly formed NORA 2 AFF Sector Council, but it has deferred results from that activity until the conclusion of the present committee’s evaluation.