What do you eat for breakfast? A bit of steel cut oatmeal with warm milk.  Yogurt with fresh fruit. And when you sit down to eat do you think about where it all comes from? That might be a problem for the people who work to make your breakfast possible.

“Being trampled, being struck by livestock, being struck by vehicles, backed over. People have fallen into and drowned in manure pits.”

– Steve Kaplan, OSHA

Turns out small dairy farms can be some of the most dangerous, unregulated places to work. There are hinges and machines and huge cows to contend with. Over the past decade in New York State alone, 70 dairy workers have died on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, investigated only six of those deaths.

Life of the Law reporter Eilis O’Neill traveled to upstate New York to find out why it’s so dangerous to work on small dairy farms.



Death on a Dairy was reported and produced by Eilís O’Neill and edited by Ibby Caputo with sound design production support from Jonathan Hirsch. Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Rachael Cain are our post-production editors.  Our Advisory Panel Scholar was Dr. Anna Maria Marshall. Special thanks to intern Byrd Pinkerton for her production support. Jim Bennett and Danny Bringer were our in-studio engineers.

Music in this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions.

Full Transcript of Death on a Dairy




This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundations, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Death on a Dairy was sponsored by Placemakers, a new Slate podcast made possible by JP Morgan Chase and by FreshBooks.

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