NATIONAL NEWS

California mushroom farms cited for workplace safety violations after January fatal shootings

Jun 26, 2023, 3:39 PM

FILE - In this photo taken by a drone, is a cluster of mobile homes at the California Terra Garden,...

FILE - In this photo taken by a drone, is a cluster of mobile homes at the California Terra Garden, formerly Mountain Mushroom Farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2023. California has cited two Northern California mushroom farms — including more than $165,000 in potential fines — for health and safety violations five months after a farmworker killed seven people in back-to-back shootings in January. (Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

California has cited two Northern California mushroom farms for health and safety violations and proposed more than $165,000 in potential fines five months after a farmworker killed seven people in back-to-back shootings on the farms in Half Moon Bay.

Chunli Zhao, who had worked at the farms, is charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in the Jan. 23 shootings that stunned the small coastal community about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of San Francisco. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities say Zhao opened fire at California Terra Garden, where he previously worked, killing four co-workers and wounding another one. They said he then drove about 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) to Concord Farms, a mushroom farm he was fired from in 2015, and shot to death three workers.

The state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as CAL/OSHA, filed 22 violations against California Terra Garden, Inc. and proposes $113,800 in fines, according to a Monday news release. Concord Farms faces 19 violations and $51,770 in fines.

The violations at California Terra Garden include an alleged failure to have a plan in place to notify employees of an active shooter threat and to tell them to take shelter. Violations at Concord Farms include a failure to address prior workplace violence and to develop a plan to prevent more in the future.

Other violations for both farms included a lack of training for Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking workers in a language they can understand and failing to secure labor camp permits for onsite worker housing.

Most of the farmworkers in the area are Latino and the two mushrooms farms are among the few that employ Chinese workers, advocates have said.

Efforts to reach the farms by telephone and email for comment were not immediately successful Monday.

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California mushroom farms cited for workplace safety violations after January fatal shootings