Smithfield Packaged Meats cited by Department of Labor for failing to protect workers from coronavirus

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Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. has been cited for one violation by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failure to protect its workers from coronavirus. OSHA found that the Sioux Falls, S.D. facility didn’t “provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm,” the announcement said. OSHA has proposed a penalty of $13,494, the maximum that’s legally allowed. “Employers must meet their obligations and take the necessary actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus at their worksite,” OSHA Sioux Falls Area Director Sheila Stanley said in a statement. OSHA guidance for prevention of the spread of coronavirus includes social distancing of at least six feet, the use of face coverings, and training for workers on how to stop the spread. Smithfield has 15 days to comply or respond to the violation. At least 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted coronavirus, and four employees died in the spring. Earlier this year, meatpacking plants became hotspots for coronavirus infection, with lawsuits filed by the families of workers who died of the illness. Tyson Foods Inc. announced in late July that it was adding nurses and a chief medical officer to manage the issue after more than 1,000 confirmed cases in a Waterloo, IA facility.

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