Production agriculture has taken some heavy hits in recent years, including field worker fatalities that turned California regulators loose on farmers with a flurry of regulations. So it's good to see an agriculture employer, Gallo Family Vineyards with headquarters in Healdsburg, is the very first recipient of a Cal/OSHA "partnership award" for worker safety programs.

This branch of the Gallo family operates vineyards in seven locations in Sonoma County, and relies on farm labor contractors to handle much of the work. Five contractors share the honor with Gallo Family Vineyards.

They are Alondra Gonzalez Lara Farm Corp., Hilario Rodriguez FLC, Sergio Alba Velazquez FLC, Servin Lopez Vineyard Management Inc and Viramontes Vineyard Management Co. The new Cal/OSHA program is site specific, depends on inspection results and honors partnerships that improve worker safety.

There's a payoff for employers that goes beyond the human factor in avoiding workplace injury. Companies that write industrial accident insurance offer lower rates to employers with safe workplaces.

"It's a total win-win for employers and workers," said Len Welsh, head of Cal/OSHA, at the recent award ceremony.

It's also good news for agriculture when ag employers are recognized for achieving safety in the fields.

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