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OHSA cites meat processing plants for COVID safety violations

| Jan 10, 2021 | Workplace safety

With the surge of COVD-19 cases across the state of California, it is more critical than ever that Los Angeles employers are taking the necessary steps to protect workers and Californians. Unfortunately, not all employers take the required or suggested steps. As we saw in the beginning of the pandemic, meat processing plants were often breeding grounds for the virus and it appears that some employers in the industry are still creating unsafe workplaces for their employees. If you work in a meat processing plant and have concerns about your COVID exposure or other safety issues, an experienced employment attorney will be able to help. 

Recently, OSHA cited eight employers for not protecting workers from COVID-19 during inspections at meat processing facilities across the state. According to OSHA, these  employers failed to take required steps to prevent COVID-19 infection in the workplace such as safe physical distancing procedures or proper face covering usage for workers in production areas. 

The employers cited for COVID-19 violations include: 

OSHA cited Smithfield Foods, Inc. in Vernon $58,100 in proposed penalties for multiple COVID-19 related violations, including two serious in nature, and its staffing firm CitiStaff Solutions was also cited $46,695 for two serious violations. Both employers failed to ensure that workers used face coverings properly in production areas and during breaks, and failed to provide effective training and instruction on how the virus is spread and how to disinfect areas properly. The OSHA investigators determined that Smithfield Foods, Inc. failed to adequately address at least 300 COVID-19 illnesses (including three that required hospitalization) amongst its employees and contracted workers hired by CitiStaff Solutions. Smithfield Foods, Inc. further failed to report serious COVID-19 illnesses to Cal/OSHA. If you work for Smithfield Foods, Inc., reach out to an employee rights attorney to discuss next steps. 

Additionally, Central Valley Meat Co. was cited for not informing employees of possible exposure when coworkers were infected with COVID-19 and for failing to provide face coverings and ensure their proper use. 

One World Beef Packer employees were hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19 and when OSHA inspected a facility, investigators noted that workers in the production lines and quality assurance area were not provided protective barriers and were working too close to each other. Furthermore, the employer failed to report the serious illnesses and fatality within the eight-hour time limit as required by law. The company was fined. 

These are just a few of the recent citations given to meat processing plants.   If you work at a meat processing plant in Los Angeles and have witnessed these or similar violations, you will want to discuss your legal rights with an experienced employment lawyer. 

For a free, no obligation consultation, contact the employment attorneys at LOEAB Law today.