Smithfield Agrees to Change Health Procedures, Training
Monday, November 22, 2021 | 0
Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., the country’s largest pork processor, has agreed to assemble a team of company and third-party experts to develop an infectious disease preparedness plan that the company will implement at each of its processing facilities nationwide as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The agreement comes after a March 2020 Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection in which OSHA cited the company under the general duty clause for failing to protect workers from coronavirus hazards at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facility.
In the spring of 2020, the company closed its Sioux Falls plant for 25 days in an effort to contain a COVID-19 outbreak. By June 16, 2020, 1,294 Smithfield workers had tested positive for COVID-19 and four died.
As part of the agreement, Smithfield will pay the assessed penalty of $13,494.
“The terms of this settlement are intended to ensure that Smithfield employees receive the training and protective measures necessary to protect them from exposure to the infectious diseases at their facilities,” Jennifer Rous, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Denver, said in a statement. “What happened at this facility was tragic and we must ensure that all steps in the agreement are followed to prevent a mass outbreak from happening again.”
The team of third-party experts and company representatives will identify personal protective equipment and respiratory protection needs, address medical management functions through the facility’s clinic and identify issues associated with continuity of operations.
Smithfield agreed to review the plan and revise it as necessary to address potential new infectious diseases and guidance from federal, state and local public health authorities, as well as review annual union feedback on the plan and its procedures.
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