OSHA, Smithfield settle coronavirus complaint

FILE -(Stephen Groves | AP)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 1:10 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - U.S Dept. of Labor reached an agreement with Smithfield Foods to settle a contested citation of the company’s coronavirus safety measures during a massive outbreak last year at the South Dakota pork processing plant.

The company will develop a plan to prevent infectious diseases at meatpacking plants nationwide and pay a $13,500 fine, which is the maximum allowed by law.

The pork processing plant was one the nation’s worst COVID-19 hotspots during the early days of the pandemic.

By June 16, 2020, four workers were dead and nearly 1,300 had tested positive for the virus.

The Virginia-based company has defended its actions and admitted no wrongdoing.

“Despite Smithfield’s early and aggressive measures, osha cited the company for actions taken in march 2020 -- just as the pandemic was becoming a reality.  Smithfield was, and remains, confident that osha’s allegations of non-compliance with osha were baseless and we appealed the citation through proper procedural means,”  Smithfield’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs Jim Monroe, said in an emailed statement.

Smithfield also agreed to review feedback from the workers union.

Earlier this month the union accused Smithfield of pushing employees despite staff shortages, verbally abusing employees, and taking away essential sanitation measures.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.