Flash Report: Employers Cited in Half Moon Bay Massacre

Two Half Moon Bay mushroom farms face up to $165,000 in Cal/OSHA penalties following the agency’s investigation into a deadly active shooter incident last February.

Chunli Zhao, 66, an employee of California Terra Garden, shot four coworkers to death and seriously wounded another, then drove to nearby Concord Farms and murdered another three employees.

He was taken into custody after driving himself to a San Mateo County Sheriff’s substation. He has been charged with seven counts of murder, and one count of attempted murder, with gun and special circumstances enhancements. Zhao has pleaded not guilty.

The county district attorney previously stated that Zhao became angered after being assessed $100 by his employer after damaging a forklift. That was not verified before the judge issued a gag order.

Now comes Cal/OSHA with allegations against the employers who were cited under the Injury and Illness Prevention Program requirements.

Cal/OSHA alleges that California Terra Garden failed to “effectively identify and evaluate” the hazard of an active shooter, as well as previous threats at the mushroom farm. DOSH also says the farm failed to implement provisions in its IIPP for conducting job hazard analyses.

Additionally, the Division says Terra Garden failed to notify employees on the day of the incident that there was an active shooter and to avoid the location and seek shelter, remove all exposed employees, or have procedures to seek physical protection if employees were unable to evacuate.

There is no workplace violence prevention standard except for healthcare.

DOSH cited the employer for 22 alleged violations, including six serious, seeking $113,800 in penalties.

The other employer, Concord Farms, is accused of failing to implement a progressive discipline program after a resident at the farm was assaulted by employees, and employees were “threatened and bullied” by other employees. Concord also failed to identify the hazard of “verbal, physical and retaliatory forms of workplace violence,” and didn’t investigate the assault on the resident.