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October 15, 2010 | By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
First in a series of candidate profiles Early on a winter morning in 2007, a 25-year old Mexican farmhand was crushed beneath a tractor on Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado's family farm, sparking an investigation that resulted in citations for four workplace safety violations, including failure to have a spotter direct the tractor driver and failure to have someone on the scene with first-aid certification. Although the young employee's death was an isolated tragedy, the run-in with regulators was part of a pattern for Agro-Jal Farming Enterprises, the farm in Santa Maria that pays Maldonado a six-figure salary to serve as controller.
September 29, 2010 | By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Labor Department issued a critical report on enforcement of workplace safety in California on Tuesday and ordered the state to fix myriad problems, including poor training of safety inspectors and delays in responding to complaints. Federal officials took aim at the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, saying, among other things, that inspectors do not always review a company's history statewide before deciding whether to cite it for repeat violations. They also found that the division's appeals process "falls short.
April 28, 2010 | By Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times
A state investigation found that a 2009 roller coaster accident that injured two riders at Knott's Berry Farm could have been prevented with proper maintenance, casting blame on both the theme park and the ride manufacturer. Xcelerator, a $13-million, hydraulic-launch accelerator coaster that opened at the Buena Park theme park in 2002, reopened Monday evening after Knott's made modifications required by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In a statement, the theme park said the state's report "identified shortcomings in the manufacturer's instructions regarding the inspection and maintenance of the cable" and that the state agency had "required Knott's Berry Farm to put into place additional safeguards to determine cable viability and to work with the manufacturer to revise maintenance instructions."
April 20, 2010 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
Using a new state law for the first time, state regulators Monday issued fines to a private hospital and a police and fire department for failing to report and prevent the spread of bacterial meningitis. The failure to follow safety and reporting protocol, regulators said, sickened two workers who ended up unconscious in intensive care. Alta Bates Sutter Medical Center in Oakland was fined $101,485 by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for 10 health and safety violations after officials failed to immediately notify public authorities and protect staff when an infected patient arrived Dec. 3, 2009, regulators said Monday.
March 13, 2010 | By Kim Christensen
A year before a UCLA staff research assistant was fatally burned in a lab fire, a graduate student was seriously injured in a similar accident that university officials failed to report to state regulators, records released Friday show. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health this week fined UCLA $23,900 for the earlier incident, which occurred in November 2007 -- 13 months before Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji suffered burns that took her life and prompted a campuswide review of lab safety.
March 10, 2010 | By Jessica Garrison
The head of the state Senate's Labor Committee accused a workplace safety board Wednesday of being biased toward employers and ignoring a law that requires fines for failing to report on-the-job injuries. After a hearing, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) said he might introduce legislation that could lead to criminal charges against board members if they continue to disregard the law that calls for a $5,000 fine for employers' failing to report accidents in a timely manner. The hearing came after a Times investigation last fall that found that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health appeals board repeatedly dismissed and reduced the penalties levied by division inspectors, even in situations in which workers had died or were seriously injured.
November 1, 2009
Re: "Worker safety lost on appeal," Oct. 21: If a Cal-OSHA official writes a citation with the wrong name on it, it should be thrown out, just as a traffic citation should be voided if a traffic officer writes the wrong driver's name. It also strikes me as improper that Cal-OSHA has been able to decide the value of a fine for a workplace injury or death. Perhaps Cal-OSHA should be more concerned with correcting the cause of a problem -- even if it involves the closing of a business until safety concerns have been met -- than with collecting money for the state.
October 21, 2009 | Jessica Garrison
Rosa Frias was working the evening shift at Bimbo Bakeries in South San Francisco when she reached into her bread-making machine to remove a hunk of dried dough. She screamed as her left hand, and then her lower arm, were sucked into the gears of the Winkler stringline proofer. That night, the limb had to be amputated above the elbow. The incident drew a $21,750 fine from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. But Bimbo paid nothing. It appealed to the Cal-OSHA Appeals Board, which dismissed the case on a technicality: The inspector had retired and Cal-OSHA could not prove that he had had permission to enter the factory.
June 30, 2009 | Kim Christensen
The head of California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health said Monday he will personally oversee a "rigorous and effective" criminal investigation into the Dec. 29 chemistry lab fire that killed a UCLA staff research assistant. Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh's pledge came after a civil probe last month resulted in one regulatory and three "serious" violations, and fines totaling $31,875. The family of the research assistant, Sheri Sangji, had criticized the review as inadequate.
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