This story has been updated to include a response from Smithfield’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. has agreed to assemble a team of company and third-party experts to develop an infectious disease preparedness plan to be implemented at its facilities nationwide.
This development was announced via news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, which outlines the terms of a settlement between the DOL and Smithfield. This settlement follows a 2020 OSHA inspection after which the company was cited for failing to protect workers from coronavirus hazards in its Sioux Falls facility.
Following the outbreak in the spring of 2020, a report by federal lawmakers reported that more than 1,600 workers at the Sioux Falls plant became infected with COVID-19.
As part of the settlement, Smithfield will develop new health procedures and training relating to infectious diseases and pay a fine of $13,494.
Also under the settlement, the release states that Smithfield will continue to use its current COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan to reduce employees’ exposure to the coronavirus while working with third-party experts to assess plants’ operating procedures and develop the infectious disease preparedness plan.
Smithfield must also evaluate work areas and other areas where employees congregate to minimize employees’ potential exposure to infectious diseases.
The release states that the 3rd-party experts and company representatives will also:
- Review Smithfield’s existing programs and procedures.
- Evaluate plant administrative and engineering controls.
- Identify personal protective equipment and respiratory protection needs.
- Address medical management functions through the facility’s onsite clinic, and identify issues associated with continuity of operations.
- Train and implement program requirements in languages and at literacy levels that the workforce understands. Any written materials provided must also be in languages employees understand.
In an emailed statement, Smithfield’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs Jim Monroe said that the company chose to settle outside of court in order to “continue the good relations it has with the agency, as we have the shared goal of workplace safety.”
Monroe also notes that Smithfield continues to maintain their belief that OSHA’s allegations of non-compliance were baseless, and that the company admits no wrongdoing.