JBS Foods reached a settlement agreement with OSHA to develop and use infectious disease preparedness plans at seven of its meat processing plants. This stems from two COVID-19 outbreaks at two plants in 2020.
The agreement involves the company assembling a team of company and third-party experts to create the plan and put it into action at plants in Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
This team is responsible for evaluating the work spaces and other areas where employees congregate to minimize potential exposure to infectious diseases. Subject-matter experts recommended by OSHA and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union will be included on the team.
Safe Work Playbook will lead into plan
Under the agreement, these facilities will use an updated Safe Work Playbook to reduce employee exposure to COVID-19 while working with the third-party experts to assess procedures and develop the plan.
The team will also:
- review existing programs and procedures, including the company’s occupational health system
- evaluate and provide recommendations for engineering, administrative and work practice controls, including ventilation, employee and visitor screening protocols, and cleaning
- identify PPE and respiratory protection needs, and
- address occupational health issues related to infectious disease prevention and response and provide recommendations on continuity of the operations plan.
Once the plan is developed, the seven facilities that fall under the settlement agreement will designate a plan administrator at each facility to supervise implementation and monitor the plan. JBS is required to provide related training in languages and at literacy levels that its workforce understands.
The company will also pay an OSHA fine of $14,502.
Result of outbreaks at Colorado, Wisconsin plants
The settlement agreement is the result of two inspections in April and May 2020 at plants in Colorado and Wisconsin, which involved citations for failure to protect workers from COVID-19.
An outbreak at the Colorado plant led to five worker deaths, 51 hospitalizations and 290 confirmed positive cases reported.
The Wisconsin outbreak led to two worker deaths and 357 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.