State Bill Would Reduce Penalties for Agricultural Businesses Who Don't Report Workplace Deaths and Injuries in a Timely Manner

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

Legislative Alert: State Bill Would Reduce Penalties for Agricultural Businesses Who Don't Report Workplace Deaths and Injuries in a Timely Manner 

House Bill 4031

On January 27, 2021 Representative Kahle (R) introduced House Bill 4031 (2021), a bill that would deny Michigan farm workers working at certain agricultural businesses the same protections that other workers receive when they are injured or die at work. The bill seeks to change the amount of time certain agricultural businesses have to report a death or injury to Michigan's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and reduces penalties for not reporting a death or injury of a farm worker as required. All farm workers, regardless of the type of agricultural employer they work for, should be equally protected by Michigan's workplace health and safety laws. All Michigan agricultural employers should be held to the same reporting standards and held responsible for not timely reporting an injury or death of a farm worker at their workplace. 

Farm work is among the most dangerous and deadly professions. Every day Michigan farmworkers are putting their lives at risk to keep us fed. The pandemic has exacerbated the dangers farm workers face at work. This bill is atrocious as it reduces the protections for farm workers who die or are injured in their workplace. Currently, MIOSHA requires that all employers report all workplace deaths within eight hours and this bill would increase the reporting time to seven days. This not only puts farm workers at risk but also contravenes federal OSHA laws.* In addition, the bill would reduce civil penalties for not timely reporting a death or injury of a farmworker from $10,000.00 to $500.00, greatly disincentivizing agricultural businesses from alerting MIOSHA of injuries and death on time.

MIRC represents injured farmworkers who depend on the quick action of agencies like MIOSHA to investigate unsafe working conditions and issue monetary penalties that deter agricultural companies from violating life saving workplace health and safety laws. This national pandemic has shown us that food and agricultural workers are not only essential to our economy, but are also risking their lives every single day by being on the frontlines providing the food that keeps us fed. We need legislation that will provide more workplace protections for farm workers, not less.

We urge you to email members of the Michigan House Agriculture Committee prior to the hearing on February 24, 2021 at 10:30 am and tell them to oppose HB 4031!

Please join Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) on February 24, 2021 at 10:30 am in providing oral or written testimony or submitting a letter of opposition during the hearing. 

Meeting details can be found here.

* MIOSHA operates Michigan's own OSHA program. Federal regulations require a state operating its own plan to adopt injury reporting requirements that are at least as effective as the federal standards.