OSHA Enforcement: Smithfield, Virginia, Pork Processor Agrees to Develop Infectious Disease Preparedness Plan

Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued a November 15th news release stating that Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. (“Smithfield”) has agreed to develop an infectious disease preparedness plan.

The Smithfield, Virginia, pork processor is described in the news release as the largest in the United States.

OSHA and Smithfield are stated to have entered into a Settlement Agreement in which the company would implement the infectious disease preparedness plan at all of its United States processing facilities.

The settlement is stated to have been entered into following a March 2020 OSHA inspection. The company was cited under the general duty clause for allegedly failing to protect workers from coronavirus hazards at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facility.

Smithfield is also required to pay an assessed penalty of $13,494.

The settlement plan is stated to involve Smithfield assembling a team of company and third-party experts. The plan is to evaluate work areas and other areas where employees congregate to minimize their potential exposure to infectious disease.

OSHA states that the team of company representatives and third-party experts 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 (i.e., written materials provided must also be in languages employees understand).

Smithfield is also required to review the plan and revise it as necessary following its development to address potential new infectious diseases and guidance from federal, state and local public health authorities. It also is required to take into account union feedback on the plan and its procedures.

A copy of the news release can be downloaded here.

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