Safety on dairy farms

NDA member farms are deeply committed to protecting the safety of their dairy employees. For the farmer owners, this is about values first and secondarily a business practice.

Statements have been made recently about worker safety on dairy farms in Washington state that need additional context below to be accurately understood. Dairy doesn’t experience a significantly higher rate of injuries when proper comparisons are made.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) workers comp premium base rates are a commonly used proxy for injury risk. The dairy industry, which is a live animal farming industry, rates favorably against other similar and directly comparable live animal farming industries, having an L&I premium base rate of $1.28. This is better than the L&I rate of $2.16 for livestock (cattle and hogs) or $1.38 for eggs and poultry.

Making comparisons outside of the dairy industry, and according to the most recent data available from the Department of Labor & Industries (2008-2012), the dairy industry is not one of the state’s top 25 most hazardous industries. This further supports the general and relative state of safety risks and performance of the dairy industry as compared broadly across a variety of other industries.

NDA farmer owners want all employees to go home in the same or better condition than when they arrived at work. Through strong deployment of the Standards & Guiding Principles adopted by the farmer owners, they hold themselves accountable to a system of expectations and industry best practices, professional third-party on-site inspections and verified evaluations, and training, tools and cycles of continuous improvement processes to be even better in the future.

Updated as of September 2018