CAFO worker safety standards on Floyd County’s March 28 agenda

CHARLES CITY — Worker safety is the focus of the latest proposal by Floyd County Supervisor Mark Kuhn to establish local standards within the state’s site evaluation tool for confined animal feeding operations.

This latest proposal follows others requiring CAFO applicants and their agents attend a public hearings and wellhead protection measures. If applicants fail to attend a public hearing, the board would reject the CAFO’s construction permit. That doesn’t block construction though, just potentially complicates the state’s approval process.

Adhering to wellhead protection would allow applicants to earn points off specific questions in the Master Matrix, the assessment tool used by the state in the CAFO site approvement process. A passing score is 440 out of 880 points. Applicants can skip questions.

Kuhn’s new proposal sets standards for Master Matrix question 37, an applicant’s worker safety and protection plan. 

To earn 10 point from this question, Kuhn proposed that applicants must meet three of the four best management practices:

1) Verification that CAFO workers are provided with workman’s compensation insurance if the applicant meets the thresholds for insurance coverage in accordance,

2) Signage warning of dangerous gasses at entries of all confinement buildings and/or any manure storage structures. During agitation and pumping of manure a second warning sign shall be posted near the pump-out area that says Manure Pumping in Progress — STAY OUT

3. Manure pit openings and access areas shall be cordoned off with gates, railings, cables or other means to prevent accidental falls into the manure pit and pit access areA.

4. The applicant shall provide employees with hydrogen sulfide gas monitors to be worn by employees during agitation and pumping of manure as well as training. 

At Supervisor Linda Tjaden’s urging, the proposal was sent to the county attorney and county insurance agent to ascertain whether setting these standards would expose the county to new liability risks.

The proposals are on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda Tuesday, March 28. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the courthouse.

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