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SPOTLIGHT: Dairy Dozen

SPOTLIGHT: Dairy Dozen

Dairy Farm Inspections Lead to Release of OSHA’s “Dairy Dozen”

Working in close contact with large animals can be dangerous and challenging. Farmers and workers are not only exposed to physical hazards when handling large animals, but various safety, health, environmental, biological and respiratory hazards. To address these health risks among farm workers, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set out to cultivate safety and prevent worker injury by focusing on farmers’ work environments.


For the past eight years, OSHA has turned its attention to the unique hazards within dairy farms. In partnership with dairy farmers in Wisconsin and New York, OSHA began an inspection program to discuss dairy farm safety hazards to prevent worker injury and death.

From their findings, OSHA identified the top 12 safety concerns on dairy farms, coining these hazards as the “Dairy Dozen,” which include:

  • Manure storage and collection facilities.
  • Dairy bull and cow movement and worker position
  • Electrical systems
  • Skid steer loader operation
  • Tractor operation
  • Power take-offs
  • Other power transmission and functional components
  • Hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining equipment
  • On-farm chemicals.
  • Confined spaces
  • Horizontal bunker silos
  • Noise


Chemicals like teat dips, sanitizing acids and detergents, foot bath treatments, degreasers, oil-based paint, diesel fuel, and gasoline were found to be particularly hazardous and abundant on dairy farms.

Employers can reduce risk by training employees on the proper use, storage, and use of protective equipment when working with these chemicals. In addition, OSHA encourages dairy managers to have safety data sheets on file for each hazardous chemical on the farm and a Hazard Communication Plan with clear instructions on what to do when a spill or direct contact with a chemical occurs.

The National Dairy FARM Program, Cargill, Inc provides safety resources, including a Safety Reference Manual and an Actionable Safety Review for dairy managers that provide guidance on how to develop comprehensive dairy farm safety plans.

To assist dairy farms and workers, UMASH and the University of Texas have created additional training resources to keep you, your workers, and your families safe on the dairy farm.