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Trump administration issues first fine for Smithfield’s COVID-19 for failing to protect workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites pork producer Smithfield Foods for failing to protect workers from exposure to coronavirus, the agency said on Thursday.

He proposed a $ 13,494 fine, the maximum allowed by law, for Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. in Sioux Falls, SD This is the first citation related to coronavirus from OSHA, which is part of the Department of Labor.

The plant in Sioux Falls was the site of the coronavirus outbreak in April, and OSHA cited the company for a breach of the general duty clause for failing to provide a safe workplace. At least 1,294 workers at Smithfield became infected with the coronavirus, and four employees died of the virus in the spring of 2020, OSHA confirmed.

Smithfield responded on Thursday that the citation of OSHA was “completely unfounded”

; and that he planned to challenge it. Smithfield has 15 working days from receiving the quote and penalty to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or formally challenge the findings.

After an investigation that lasted many months and included a review of over 20,000 pages of documents and 60 interviews, OSHA issued only a single citation under its “general obligation clause” of a general nature for conditions that existed on and before 23 March 2020. , “Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance, said in a statement.

She added that Smithfield had taken “emergency measures” to keep employees healthy, and when the jump occurred at the Suu Falls plant, he “responded immediately by consulting with [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC, South Dakota Department of Health, [U.S. Department of Agriculture] USDA and many others. “

OSHA’s management says companies must take proactive measures to protect workers, including enforcing social distancing, providing coverings and installing physical barriers. OSHA refused to impose a nationwide occupational safety standard, COVID-19, through an interim emergency standard, despite months of calls from unions, Democrats and labor lawyers.

The Sioux Falls plant, which accounts for up to 5 percent of US pork production, was temporarily closed in April due to the outbreak. Smithfield was also sued on charges of failing to protect workers at a Missouri plant during the pandemic.

His. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCourt documents show postal service removes 711 mail sorting machines this year One-night healthcare: Trump privately calls coronavirus “deadly” while publicly comparing it to the flu | Healthcare professionals are committed to keeping the policy out of the vaccination process Senate report finds mail delays slow prescription delivery Overnight Defense: Woodward’s book causes new storm | Buk says Trump attacked generals and told Woodward about secret weapons system | The United States is withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE (D-Mass.) He responded to the fine on Thursday, saying it was not enough and that Smithfield’s chief executive should be held accountable.

“This meager, months-long fine is not enough, and if OSHA is serious about doing its job, it will aggressively expand its investigative and law enforcement activities to hold giant meat plants responsible and issue an emergency temporary standard with applicable protect health and safety, “she said.

Warren and Sen. Corey BookerCorey Anthony Booker NJ’s bold new global convention post-COVID governor is offering thousands of baby bonds for children to reduce the wealth gap. (DN.J.) launched an investigation against Smithfield and other leading meat processing companies in June over allegations that they exploited workers, among other issues.

In a public response, Smithfield’s chief executive said, “The accusation that we are reluctant to enforce worker protection is obvious and clearly untrue.”

“It’s a federal crime to lie to Congress,” Warren said Thursday. “If Smithfield’s CEO was aware of OSHA’s findings at the same time, he called the allegations of worker abuse clearly false, he should be held accountable.”

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