Meatpackers Fined for Failing to Protect Workers

As of November, over 50,000 workers at meat and poultry slaughter facilities had been infected with COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has determined that the spread of COVID-19 at some facilities is largely a result of meatpacking plants not acting quickly to implement measures such as social distancing, physical barriers, face shields, and face coverings. So far, OSHA has fined Smithfield Foods and JBS Foods (operating as Swift Beef Company) for failing to protect employees at four facilities in the Midwest. State regulators have also taken action. In November, OSHA administrators in California fined Smithfield and its contractor over $100,000 for COVID-related violations at its Vernon, California, facility. However, it is doubtful that the fines, which amount to less than $150,000 for all five facilities combined, will motivate organizational change. These major corporations may just chalk it up as the cost of doing business.