A candidate for lieutenant governor of California says many of the safety citations leveled against his family business are the product of overzealous regulators.
Abel Maldonado told Los Angeles Times these sorts of fines “put businesses out business.” The newspaper included the statement in part of a profile of Maldonado.
Cal/OSHA has cited Maldonado’s family farm, Agro-Jal Farming Enterprises, 28 times since 1990.
Four fines were in connection with the death of a worker in 2007 who was crushed by a tractor. The fines associated with an investigation of the death totaled $930. A federal report recently criticized California for failing to defend its investigators’ findings during the appeals process, leading to excessive reductions in fines.
In separate incidents, the business was also cited four times for running tractors across fields with no driver at the wheel and no means of steering or stopping them.
The farm was also fined for failing to provide adequate access to shade or water for employees.
Maldonado casts himself as a defender of small businesses. He grew up on farms, picking strawberries with his parents and helping to grow the family business which now covers 6,000 acres and has 250 employees.
He’s running for the seat Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to this year.
Maldonado still collects a six-figure salary as a controller for the farming company.
A Cal/OSHA spokesman said Agro-Jal’s record with the agency is not extreme. The spokesman called it “average, or a little better.”
Cal/OSHA is one of seven government agencies that have taken action against the farm. Liens have been filed against it nine times since 1992 for back taxes.
Do you agree or disagree with Maldonado’s statement that OSHA is driving companies out of business? Let us know in the Comments Box below.