Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Group petitions for livestock-worker safety

hog farm

Photo: meltonmedia/iStockphoto

Washington – The Department of Labor must do more to protect sheepherders and other livestock workers from unsafe conditions, according to advocacy group Public Citizen.

The watchdog is soliciting people to sign an online petition encouraging DOL to strengthen protections for such workers. Sheepherders and livestock workers who supervise roaming herds of animals often perform rigorous work in difficult conditions, Public Citizen says.

Workers may lack access to running water and refrigeration for food storage, which increases their risk of heat illness and other health hazards. The petition calls for DOL “to improve deplorable working conditions so these workers have access to basic necessities like sufficient heat, refrigeration and running water.”

Safety standards for workers who oversee roaming herds should be similar to the standards that are required in other types of agricultural labor, according to the group.

The National Safety Council says livestock can be frightened easily and are prone to unpredictable behavior. NSC safety guidelines include equipping pens with emergency exits and ensuring that restraining equipment is in good condition.