Smithfield Foods agreed to settle with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and pay a $13,494.00 fine for failing to protect its employees from COVID exposure last year after receiving a citation from OSHA. Despite receiving the citation as a result of OSHA’s investigation, the company still gets to maintain it did nothing wrong under the terms of its settlement with OSHA.
At Smithfield’s Sioux Falls plant, nearly 1,300 workers were infected and four (4) died in the early months of the pandemic. As part of Smithfield’s settlement with OSHA, the company is required to convene a team of experts to evaluate its infectious disease protocols and to update them by November 2022.
The meatpacking industry saw a high infection and death rate for employees being exposed to COVID. Recent numbers indicate that at the five largest meatpackers in the country, over 59,000 workers became infected with COVID, and over 270 died. The meatpacking industry has received much criticism for lack of employee protection with government officials even calling the situation at one Smithfield facility “tragic.”
Employee lawsuits, including wrongful death suits, have been brought against Smithfield Foods, and others, for their failure to protect the rights and safety of their employees and for failing to remedy the situation over the past year.
If someone you knew or loved, died from COVID as a result of working in a meatpacking plant, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-222-7211 or toll-free at 1-800-870-9584.