More safety violations at Maldonado family farm

November 6, 2012

Abel Maldonado

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.

 


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Vallybear

The Republican party of CAlifornia refused to endorse Abel for congress. What did they know that they weren’t telling? it is obvious. They knew he was an opportunist from the get-go and was looking out for no one but himself. How many times did he go anywhere north of Santa Maria? Maybe once when he was up in SLO to congratulate a moving business. Other than that, he is a slug in the party and deserved to be defeated as he was.


justme

Yeah, I’m afraid his main job was to be Latino. Get their votes. He had to follow orders explicitly which made him unpopular somewhat because he was unconnected, just a Latino at first..

But to his great credit they found one helluva successful, motivated, “Supermex”. guy to show off. I admire him.

I just hope he takes his new drop in visibility well and he continues find things to accomplish.


But I think he may not, it seems to me anyway.


fhill123

It seems that now Abel has more time to devote to his farm as he will not be busy in politics for a while.


whoowhoo

Unmanned tractors pull trailers through the fields everyday and have done so for years. They move along at a speed so slow that you can hardly see them move. This allows the workers to load boxes of lettuce, etc onto the trailer and get the food to market. Most tractors will shut down when the seat is unoccupied but these specialty tractors will allow this type of operation because it is safe. More people get hurt on escalators than by these tractors.


MaryMalone

If the practiced of “unmanned tractors” is banned by Cal-OSHA, then those employers doing it need to be cited and fined for the violations.


I don’t care if these are “specialty tractors” or not.


There are cars which, when modified, can travel at a rate of speed which is far beyond the legal limits on California roads. The fact that these are “specialty cars” means zip. If they are being operated in a manner which breaks laws and regulations, then those operating the vehicles in an illegal manner need to be cited and fined AND the vehicles need to be confiscated.


SLOBIRD

Mary you are an idiot… California, the demorats of this State, just approved a driverless car. Your governor drove in it in September. If we can have driverless cars on our roads, why not driverless tractors. Seems I would prepare the later…. just saying!


MaryMalone

SLOBIRD, it is you who is the “idiot.”


If a vehicle, piece of equipment, tractor etc. is designed to operate in a manner which is unusual for similar pieces of equipment, vehicles, etc., and is designated by the state government as being lawfully operated when doing so, then there would not be a ticket, citation or fine issued.


hijinks

The governor drove a driverless car. Wow, that’s a hoot. Don’t call other people idiots when you say stuff like that.


SLOBIRD

September 25, 2012: “Gov. Jerry Brown rode to Google headquarters in a self-driving Toyota Prius before signing legislation Tuesday that will pave the way for driverless cars in California.” Please do your research before calling me the idiot! Do you know how to Google or use internet explorer? Do some homework!


justme

Not a Maldo man, but ya can’t shoot out stat’s like that, then the insinuation that……


Karen, you gotta include the other big farms citing numbers, what if he’s the shining example of worker safety in the SM valley?


Ahhh, Karen, he’s running for office? Today?


MaryMalone

QUOTING JUSTME: “…what if he’s the shining example of worker safety in the SM valley?”


The theory of relativism is ill-suited for a country ruled and governed by laws.


Are meth users to be arrested and fined based on the amount of meth they smoke relative to what other meth addicts smoke?


justme

There’s a baseline for citings of Farms in the SM Vly. His farms either exceed it or not, we don’t know yet, and I’m damned sure you don’t. Everything is relative to everything else, Genius. What? Except when you declare it not valid?

Mary, you need to find out what really bothers you….in life, and do it at the shrink’s office, a yoga class or time talking with family members, not here.

You don’t have any real intellect, just an annoying, noisey, accusatory, disturbing and unending blather that looks informative to you, ridiculous to us.

And as usual the point of other’s entries here including mine above went right over your head.


Any chance you might consider finding another blog? A hobby? An anti-depressant? Enrolling in Charm school?


Watch this entry’s Likes blow away the Dislikes as usual when they counter your angry, empty responses.


Moderator

justme go on about the story all you want.

Stop complaining about the other commenters.


Consider this a warning shot, ? ! moderator@calcoastnews.com


MaryMalone

That’s the best you can do? One long, illogical and pathetically transparent ad hominem attack? Attack the opinion, not the person voicing the opinion.


It appears by your posting that it is you who are uninformed about what you are talking about.


The “baseline” used to assess for issuing citations and fines is not issued for an area, and there is no set criteria, either. It can depend on a lot of factors, or one factor; the factors can be small issues or huge issues. Whether they have been cited before can be an issue, as can if they were cited before and went right back to doing what they had been previously cited for. It has nothing to do with whether the employers are “farms” or other businesses.


And you might want to educate yourself on Cal-OSHA’s information distribution process, as well.


Mr. Holly

600 employees? I wonder if any of them complained or if they are happy with their jobs. I certainly wouldn’t put it past the government to do a witch hunt on Abel. It seems like CAL/OSHA goes after the big boys so that they can levy their heavy fines.

I wonder if these “violations” exceed those of other farms this size and with these many employees?

Where would Lois Capps be if she were a real business person and had a business of this size and with this many employees.

Politics at its worst-again.

Hopefully by tomorrow morning things will have CHANGED for the best.


catdude

A witch hunt? By government agencies? To what purpose? ….Typical conservative paranoid crap; don’t like the truth, why, just attack the messenger. And of course government’s purpose is to screw up your life….Sheesh…And I agree, hopefully by tomorrow maldonado will be OUT or our government!


Citizen

Witch hunt by Bill Burton, Lois Capps new son in law and Obama Press Secretary who came with Obama from the land of dirty tricks–Chicago. He is now head of an Obama Super-Pac.


MaryMalone

Which “Obama Super-Pac” would that be? Name of the PAC and the names of those running it would be appreciated.


SLOBIRD

Google it, you will find it, maybe!


MaryMalone

I am interested in the “Super-Pac” poster Citizen described as “…an Obama Super-Pac.” Apparently, Citizen cannot provide that information. Therefore, it is anybody’s guess whether it actually exists, and whether Obama is linked in any way to it.


Understand, I am a liberal and did not vote for Obama in 2012, although I voted for him in 2008.


I’d like to know which Super-Pac Citizen is talking about, that’s all.


Citizen

Here it is, Mary. Priorities USA Action You can also google “Bill Burton superpac”.


MaryMalone

So how is Bill Burton’s PAC connected to Abel Maldonado’s disgusting history of citations and fines for safety violations on the farms he runs or owns?


hijinks

“600 employees? I wonder if any of them complained.” Don’t be silly. Of course they didn’t complain. If they did, the Big M would fire them, or have them deported.


This isn’t politics. The M’s farm has been cited again and again and again for a long, long time for many, many things, and they don’t have any learning curve because they’re deliberate outlaws. Search the Trib — you’ll find they’re in the news a lot. They just don’t like to follow the law — labor law, tax law, whatever law. Just the sort we need in Congress.


MaryMalone

If a meth-head was arrested for smoking meth, and subsequently charged with the crime, would you ask, “UMMMMMMM, wonder how this meth-head got reported”?


Attempts to shift blame for the Cal-OSHA violations from the employer to who reported the violation simply makes Maldonado’s backers look desperate to save his tattered and tainted brand.


CommonSenseMama

You are comparing tweekers with erroneous Cal-OSHA regulations? This is a new low for you, Ms. Malone.


I doubt anyone would argue that providing adequate shade/cooling conditions on a hot day is not necessary. Most of the regulations enforced by Cal-OSHA are an impractical joke. Want to know what really happens when Cal-OSHA shows up on a job site? Production stops (or slows to a stand still).


MaryMalone

No, I am comparing two illegal activities.


They can both lead to fatalities.


The difference is in the case of the meth user, that decision is their own to make, so their death will be from their own actions.


In the case of employers who benefit from illegal activities as an employer, the employer places the employees at risk for death.


If you would like to see what the KCI Environmental worksite—where Mr. Maldonado was working on 10/12/2011, when he suffered a fatal heat-stroke thanks to KCI’s failure to follow Cal-OSHA’s regulations for the prevention of heat-related illness and death— [ tinyurl.com/czmdnrq ] is the front cover of an industry magazine. Ironically, this photo was taken by a photographer and then used as the magazine’s cover a few months after Mr. Maldonado died of heat stroke there.


You can see, on the right bank, a line of erosion-control wattles filled with straw. Mr. Maldonado and the rest of KCI’s labor crew were working there on an extraordinarily hot day (94 degrees F). On a day with such elevated temperatures, Cal-OSHA’s requirements to prevent heat-related injuries require even more stringent safeguards than normal-temperature days would require.


Maldonado’s work involved using a sledge hammer to pound in the stakes which held the wattles in place.


MaryMalone

Well, if employees are in jeopardy because Cal-OSHA’s regulations are not being followed, then work activities SHOULD stop.


Or would you rather that workers like Mr. Maldonado continue to sling that sledge-hammer, in 94-degree heat, while suffering the signs of heat-stroke, so production won’t stop?


I’ve given you specifics for the kind of activities Cal-OSHA writes citations and issues fines for. Why don’t you provide some of these “impractical joke” regulations you say Cal-OSHA enforces, then provide dates when they appeared on a worksite and work production came to a “stop”?


May you and your loved ones suffer what you advocate for others.


CommonSenseMama

If someone is feeling unwell when working in heat (94 is not that extreme), then they should STOP WORKING. What happened to personal responsibility? (it was thrown out the window with accountability)


As far as impractical jokes- go ask any construction worker, there are many!


Cal-OSHA is a privately funded group- funded by the fines and fees they collect. Any wonder why there are so many regulations?


zaphod

(Cal-OSHA is a privately funded group)

Bullshit^


kettle

CommonSenseMama says:” then they should STOP WORKING. What happened to personal responsibility?”


Personal responsibility It’s there, they are responsible to there families and want to work tomorrow. People who have jobs would understand that.


You must be a fan of the short hoe http://www.pbs.org/itvs/fightfields/book1.html


“Cal-OSHA is a privately funded” Bullshit. If common sense was more common the world would be a better place.


Again I urge more funding for real world education.


MaryMalone

Have you ever had a heat-stroke? Or any heat-related illness? Probably not because a hallmark of a heat-stroke is that it is insidious in onset and, by the time the worker should be able to realize he/she is something more than just whupped by doing heavy labor, he/she is likely no longer competent (due to the effects of heat-related illnesses, such as reduced blood flow to the brain) to judge their own condition.


Please don’t attempt to shift the blame for Mr. Jesse Maldonado Jr’s heat-stroke, suffered while working for KCI International, to onto the victim (Mr. Jesse Maldonado Jr).


KCI International failed in their legislated mandate to provide specific safety measures which allow humans to work in inhumane conditions.


hijinks

Clearly, it was just political persecution of the meth head.


racket

Did anyone get hurt in the violations, or was it simply an opportunity for the state to levy fines?


MaryMalone

Hopefully, if there are violations occurring, Cal-OSHA citing the employer will occur BEFORE someone is hurt.


It’s like KCI Environmental, construction labor contractor for the Willow-Road/101 freeway extension in Nipomo. KCI failed to perform to on the Cal-OSHA employer requirements to prevent heat-related injuries.


The result? In October 2012, according to the SLO County Coroner’s report (including the SLOCo Detective’s investigative report and the post-mortem examination, Jesse Maldonado Jr, of Nipomo, husband and father, died of a massive heat-stroke.


Depending on the medical reference material, a core body temperature of 102 to 104 degrees is diagnostic for heat-stroke. All heat-strokes are serious, life-threatening conditions.


The shade KCI was required to provide for their workers? According to the (http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/edresources.html) WATER. REST. SHADE. The cab of a KCI truck. (The temperature inside a vehicle is usually higher than the temperature outside the vehicle.) That’s where Maldonado was sent when he showed signs of heat-related illness.


KCI Environmental’s supervisor couldn’t even be bothered to call for an ambulance for Jesse Maldonado, even after Maldonado passed out. It turned out to be It was Maldonado’s WIFE, who had been called from the jobsite, who called the ambulance.


Maldonado’s core body temperature, when he arrived at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, was 108.9 degrees F. His organs were liquifying inside his body.


KCI Environmental was cited $34,450 in fines by Cal-OSHA.


OSHA and Cal-OSHA have spent considerable effort making information available to employers, including handouts to employees. Here is Cal-OSHA’s webpage on preventing heat-related illness: WATER. REST SHADE. (www.99calor.org/english.html)


Why did Jesse Maldonado have to die?


Wouldn’t it have been better for EVERYBODY if KCI Environmental had been cited and actually LEARNED from prior citations?


MaryMalone

Mea culpa. I neglected to edit out Paragraph 5 of my post at http://tinyurl.com/anql77f, and replace it with the following information:


The shade KCI was required to provide for their workers? According to:


California Department of Industrial Relations, Title 8

Heat Illness Info (http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html)


“Shade” means blockage of direct sunlight. One indicator that blockage is sufficient is when objects do not cast a shadow in the area of blocked sunlight. Shade is not adequate when heat in the area of shade defeats the purpose of shade, which is to allow the body to cool. For example, a car sitting in the sun does not provide acceptable shade to a person inside it, unless the car is running with air conditioning. Shade may be provided by any natural or artificial means that does not expose employees to unsafe or unhealthy conditions.


The shade KCI provided to their outdoor construction workers? The cab of a KCI truck. (The temperature inside a vehicle is usually higher than the temperature outside the vehicle.) That’s where Maldonado was sent when he showed signs of heat-stroke.


The Gimlet Eye

They say he and his family “came here with nothing.”


How does a family like that acquire a 6,000 acre farm in his lifetime?


unlisted

Remember, a vote for AWOL unAbel is a vote for ignoring inconvenient worker safety and tax laws.


kayaknut

because we all know that our tax laws are perfect. Guess thats why Ms Capps failed to disclose income.


And a vote for Ms Capps is a vote for the party line and continutation of the great shape CA is in.


MaryMalone

I agree with Unlisted.


Further, I believe that any politician who benefits from illegal working conditions for their employees is not fit to be in office. I’m not sure they are even fit to be called human beings.


Workers are not discardable scraps of used toiletpaper, to be used and then discarded. Shame on Maldonado, and any other employer, who fails to provide even the minimal protection of workers provided by simply following Cal-OSHA regulations.


MaryMalone

Hello? Lois Capps is a member of the U.S. Congress. While she does much to benefit Californians, she represents us at the federal level, not the state level.


kayaknut

You don’t think what Ms Capps does at the federal level has an impact on things within the state??????


MaryMalone

Read my post again. I acknowledge that she does much to benefit Californians.


If you must rewrite my posts so that you can make a point, you really are not able to make the point by more ethical tactics.


kettle

Local level> State level> Federal level.

These things have different operating parameters.


More funding for real world education please.