Smithfield signs settlement with OSHA over infectious disease protocols

SmithfieldSIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., the largest pork processor in the United States, has reached a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after receiving a citation for failing to protect workers from coronavirus hazards.

The Sioux Falls plant closed for nearly a month in early 2020 in an effort to contain a COVID-19 outbreak. 1,294 Smithfield workers had tested positive for COVID-19 and four died by June 16.

Smithfield will have to develop a new infectious disease preparedness plan for use at plants nationwide. They will also pay a penalty of $13,494 for the March 2020 OSHA citation.

Company representatives and third-party experts will work together to assess operating procedures and infectious disease plans – including work areas and other areas where employees congregate – to minimize employees’ potential exposure to infectious diseases.

“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,” said OSHA’s Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver. “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.”

Smithfield will continue to use their COVID-19 response plan while the assessment occurs. The company agreed to review and revise the new protocol as necessary to comply with guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities – as well as to review annual union feedback.

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