Omaha meat processing facility affected by OSHA COVID-19 settlement
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Several meat processing plants in different states, including two in Nebraska, are affected by a recent settlement with OSHA regarding infectious disease protocols.
According to the United States Department of Labor, four JBS Foods USA subsidiaries and affiliates have agreed to a settlement in which they will create a team of company and outside experts to develop new infectious disease preparedness plans. The teams will affect seven meat processing facilities across the country.
The companies were originally cited by OSHA in April and May 2020 following two inspections at facilities in Colorado and Wisconsin. The inspections allegedly revealed the plants failed to protect workers from COVID-19 hazards.
A 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at a plant in Greeley, Colorado resulted in five workers’ deaths, 51 hospitalizations and 290 positive cases, the U.S. Department of Labor said.
At a Green Bay, Wisconsin plant, a 2020 COVID-19 outbreak resulted in 147 positive cases by April 22, 2020, and 357 cases and two deaths by Aug. 12, 2020.
“Employers are legally obligated to provide workers with a safe and healthful workplace, and the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to holding employers accountable when they fail to do so,” said Regional Solicitor John Rainwater, in Dallas. “Terrible tragedies occurred at JBS facilities in Greeley and Green Bay, and we will ensure that this agreement is in full force to prevent a mass outbreak from happening again.”
Based on the agreement, JBS subsidiaries and its affiliates will use an updated Safe Work Playbook to reduce COVID-19 exposure and work with experts to develop preparedness plans. The experts will evaluate work sites and areas where employees gather and work to minimize exposure to diseases.
“This settlement is intended to ensure that, going forward, protective measures are in place to protect workers at these facilities from COVID-19 and from other infectious diseases as well,” said OSHA’s Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver. “This settlement will positively impact the safety and health of JBS employees far beyond the two facilities where these inspections occurred.”
The agreement will affect workers in the following facilities, two of which are in Nebraska:
- Swift Beef Co. - Greeley, Colorado.
- Swift Pork Co. - Beardstown, Illinois.
- Swift Beef Co. - Grand Island, Nebraska.
- Swift Beef Co. - Omaha, Nebraska.
- JBS Souderton Inc. - Souderton, Pennsylvania.
- Swift Beef Co. - Cactus, Texas.
- JBS Green Bay Inc. - Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Swift Beef Co. and JBS Green Bay Inc. also must pay OSHA a penalty of $14,502.
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