More safety violations at Maldonado family farm
November 6, 2012
Since Abel Maldonado announced his plans to run for congress, his 6,000-acre farm in Santa Maria has had three Cal/OSHA citations for issues regarding employee safety.
Since the 1990s, Agro-Jal has accumulated dozens of Cal/OSHA violations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines while Maldonado served as the farm’s controller.
In early 2011, Maldonado’s family business was cited for allowing farm equipment to work the fields with no driver at the wheel. In 2010, Cal/OSHA cited Agro-Jal four times for running unmanned tractors and for failing to provide adequate access to shade or water for employees.
On Nov. 4, 2011, inspectors lodged two complaints against Agro-Jal for not operating under mandated safe work practices and for failing to report employee injuries. More than 600 employees were exposed to harm because of the farm’s operational deficiencies, according to Cal/OSHA.
The Nov. 2011 inspection resulted in fines of $23,000.
The former lieutenant governor, who has stated he is a defender of small businesses, has repeatedly voted against farm worker safety bills. As a legislator, Maldonado voted against several bills that would have set standards for controlling the risks of heat-related illnesses, and others regarding mandated meal and rest periods for employees who work outside.
Maldonado’s father came to California from Mexico in the early 1960s. Abel Maldonado grew up working on the farm with his family.
During his campaign for Congress, Maldonado has frequently touted his business savvy and work ethics learned while working to build up his family’s business — which now includes more than 6,000 acres.
Maldonado is currently engaged in a tough election battle against incumbent Congresswoman Lois Capps.