Cal/OSHA fined a frozen food manufacturer and its temporary agency over $200,000 each for COVID-19 violations at two facilities.
Neither company took steps to protect employees by installing barriers or implementing social distancing procedures or investigating any of the more than 20 COVID-19 infections among its employees, including one death, according to Cal/OSHA.
Lack of physical distancing
An inspection was opened with Overhill Farms Inc. and Jobsource North America Inc. after Cal/OSHA received complaints of COVID-19 violations, according to a news release issued by the agency.
The inspections included visits to two facilities in Vernon, CA, where the state agency found hundreds of employees were exposed to serious illness from COVID-19 due to the lack of physical distancing procedures:
- where employees clock in and out during shift changes
- at the cart where they put on gloves and coats
- in the break room
- on the conveyor line, and
- during packing operations.
The larger of the two facilities had 330 Overhill employees and 60 Jobsource workers who were exposed to the virus due to the lack of physical distancing.
At the smaller facility, Cal/OSHA found 80 Overhill employees and 40 Jobsource workers performing packing operations, working in the marinating area and processing raw poultry without any distancing procedures or protective barriers in place.
Training, communication and other violations
Other COVID-19 violations include failure to:
- train employees on hazards presented by the coronavirus
- investigate any of the more than 20 COVID-19 illnesses and one death among employees
- adequately communicate COVID-19 hazards to the workforce
- report a COVID-19 fatality to Cal/OSHA.
Overhill Farms is facing $222,075 in proposed Cal/OSHA fines for the coronavirus violations along with an additional $14,450 in fines for non-COVID violations.
Jobsource received $214,080 in proposed penalties for its COVID-related violations.
Inspections, fines for other incidents
Both employers were also cited for two separate incidents that occurred in February involving two workers who were injured when their hands got caught in unguarded conveyor parts.
Those inspections resulted in $103,780 in proposed fines for Overhill, including repeat violations due to a similar incident in 2016, and $29,700 for Jobsource.