California Governor Schwarzenegger’s Administration Issues Seven Citations And $262,700 In Fines Against Merced Farm Labor Contractor


Actions In Addition to Issuing Temporary Stop Work Order and Pursuing the License Revocation of Merced Farm Labor Contractor

Sacramento, CA  (CompNewsNetwork) - California Governor Schwarzenegger today announced his Administration's most recent actions against Merced Farm Labor Contractor, the Atwater-based employer of a 17-year-old farm worker who died of heat stroke in May.  The Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety & Health (DIR/Cal/OSHA) issued seven citations and assessed fines of $262,700 against the organization.  At over a quarter-million dollars, the fines are the largest assessed to an agricultural firm since the implementation of the Governor's permanent heat illness prevention regulations in 2006.

"My Administration has issued a temporary stop work order to this organization and is currently pursuing the revocation of its license," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Employers or labor contractors that do not comply with the heat illness prevention standards I signed into law in 2005 will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These organizations must obey the law and protect workers' safety or we will shut them down."

An investigation of Merced Farm Labor Contractor was initiated following the death of Maria Vasquez Jimenez, who had been working nine hours in a Lodi vineyard with no shade and little water.  Under California law, employers are required to have a written heat illness prevention program, train all employees and supervisors about the dangers of heat illness, provide adequate and accessible shade and enough cool, accessible water for each employee to drink at least four cups per hour.

To date, the Administration has issued a temporary stop work order against Merced Farm Labor, which legally stays in effect until the organization is found to be in compliance with heat regulations.  The Administration is currently pursuing the revocation of Merced Farm Labor Contractor's license.

The three serious and willful citations issued today were for failure to provide heat illness prevention training to employees and supervisors although the company was aware of the requirement to do so, and failure to provide for prompt medical attention in case of serious injuries when working in remote locations. Fines of $70,000 were assessed for each violation.

In addition to these citations, two serious citations were issued for failing to provide water in a readily accessible location and not permitting access to the water at all times, and failing to provide access to a shaded area for recovery periods of no less than five minutes. Fines of $22,500 were assessed for each violation.

One general citation alleging three violations were also issued for failing to train new employees about the requirements of the injury and illness prevention program, and failing to include written procedures for complying with heat illness prevention requirements. Fines of $1,350 each were assessed. One regulatory citation was also issued for failure to report a potential heat illness to Cal/OSHA with an assessed fine of $5,000.

For more information on today's actions please visit: 08/IR2008-52.html

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