Inspections include checking the housing site, water supply, restroom and bathing facilities, cooking areas, safety measures and other standards stipulated by the Operational Safety and Health Administration, Stewart said.
The Department of Workforce Services also provides an ombudsman who can take employee complaints or those filed on behalf of employees by concerned parties.
Simple violations such as missing window screens or dead batteries in smoke detectors are met with a warning and sometimes a fine or a follow-up inspection. Serious violations are handled by the Department of Labor, which is responsible for issuing fines.
"(The fine) can be like $300 for no toilet paper," Stewart said.
In the past year, Workforce Services has conducted 30 investigations of sheepherder operations in Utah, citing four violations, he said.
Retaining skilled sheepherders who have familiarized themselves with the operation is the best way to benefit ranchers, Stewart said, which is why it is important the workers have the option of a three-year contract and aren't required to spend six months outside of the U.S. between contracts.
"Experience and continuity are key to successful sheep herding because of the large, expansive grazing land that comprise most sheep operations and the necessity to care for the animals themselves," Stewart said.
Contributing: John Hollenhorst
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