We have been visiting with Rick Blaylock, District Director of the US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division for North Carolina on some common problems found on farms. He is here to help those farmers side step these problems.
“One of the common problems we find is some growers who provide housing to their workers and we applaud that. There are growers who take great pride in the housing they provide and do an excellent job. But some growers are not aware of all of the requirements needed when housing is provided. Here in NC, they will need to get the housing inspected by the NC Bureau of Ag Safety and Health. In addition they need to disclose the housing terms and conditions under Federal law to anyone who is receiving housing from you, regardless if they are being charged for they housing or not.
One of the things we will do in our investigation, is we will visit the housing and see the conditions and seek out the grower to meet with them and share any concerns we have. We have a 15 page checklist that we go through to see that the housing is meeting OSHA standards. If, when we walk into farm labor housing, and see the terms and conditions posted in the housing, we already know that the grower is doing their best to communicate to their workers the standards at the housing.
These housing terms and conditions include if there is any charge for the housing, who is providing it, if there are any meals, any charges for utilities and other things. Sometimes growers not aware that this information needs to be posted, may have communicated this information to the workers but not disclosed it in writing.
We may ask the farmer to pay monies back to the workers if this disclosure information has not been posted in written form.”
We’ll hear more from Rick Blaylock next week on another compliance issue.