Emergency Preparedness, Safety, Security

Cal/OSHA Cites Mushroom Farms in Workplace Shootings

On June 26, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) announced citations for two Half Moon Bay farms where seven workers were shot and killed January 23.

Cal/OSHA cited California Terra Garden Inc., for 22 violations, including 5 serious and 1 serious, accident-related for failing to have a plan or procedures to immediately notify employees of an active shooter threat and instruct them to seek shelter. The agency proposed penalties totaling $113,800.

Cal/OSHA cited Concord Farms Inc. for 19 violations, 3 of them serious, including failure to address previous incidents of workplace violence and develop procedures to correct and prevent such a hazard. The agency proposed penalties totaling $51,770.

California employers must establish and maintain a written safety and health management program under Cal/OSHA’s injury and illness prevention program standard. While there’s no corresponding federal standard for a written program, all private sector employers must provide “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees” under the General Duty Clause (§5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

A former California Terra Garden employee, who also previously worked at Concord Farms, is accused of shooting and killing four workers and wounding a fifth at California Terra Garden on January 23 before driving to Concord Farms and fatally shooting three workers there.

Cal/OSHA cited both employers for failing to establish a workplace safety plan that evaluated the threat of workplace violence and trained workers in a language they can understand. The agency also cited both employers for failure to secure labor camp permits for on-site worker housing.  

California Terra Garden failed to establish procedures to address the hazards posed by an active shooter, according to Cal/OSHA, resulting in the fatal and serious injuries. The employer should have established procedures for evacuation or sheltering in place during an active shooter incident. California Terra Garden also failed to maintain surveillance cameras or establish procedures for reviewing surveillance cameras, according to the agency.

ALSO READ: Preventing Workplace Violence Through Situational Awareness

In addition to citations for injury and illness prevention program and labor camp permit violations, Cal/OSHA cited California Terra Garden for violations of the state’s standards for:

  • COVID-19 prevention (California’s nonemergency regulation applies until February 3, 2025);
  • Emergency eyewash and shower equipment;
  • Field sanitation;
  • Hazard communication;
  • Heat illness prevention;
  • Maintaining access to exit routes;
  • Maintaining adequate aisle widths for vehicle traffic;
  • Medical services and first aid;
  • Portable fire extinguishers;
  • Powered industrial truck operator training; and
  • Recordkeeping—failing to record injuries in the employer’s Cal/OSHA 300 log.

Before the January 23 incident, a resident at Concord Farms had been assaulted by employees, and employees were threatened and bullied by others, according to the agency. The employer should have developed a program of progressive discipline within its injury and illness prevention program. The agency also cited Concord Farms for violations of state standards for:

  • Chemical labels;
  • Electrical safety, including the standard for workspaces around electrical equipment;
  • Heat illness prevention;
  • Portable fire extinguishers;
  • Powered industrial truck operator training;
  • Pressure vessels;
  • Recordkeeping—failing to record injuries in the employer’s Cal/OSHA 300 log; and
  • Workplace sanitation.

There’s no federal workplace violence prevention standard, but an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rulemaking would establish one for health care and social assistance.

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