Smithfield fined $13,494 for COVID-19 outbreak at Sioux Falls plant that killed 4, sickened 1,300 – Community News

Smithfield fined $13,494 for COVID-19 outbreak at Sioux Falls plant that killed 4, sickened 1,300

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Pig processing giant Smithfield has agreed to pay a $13,494 fine and make changes to its health and safety plans, as part of a settlement with federal security officials over the COVID-19 outbreak in the Sioux Falls company’s factory in March 2020 that killed four workers and sickened nearly 1,300 people.

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., the owner of the Sioux Falls plant, has agreed to pay the fine and develop an infectious disease preparedness plan for its plants nationwide, in a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Security Service. Health Administration, the agency announced Monday. 15.

OSHA surveyed the plant in April 2020 after the company temporarily shut it down to contain an early pandemic outbreak there. The outbreak quickly became one of the worst in the country, spreading to workers’ families and fueling the rising number of positive cases in the city. By June, 1,294 Smithfield employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and four had died.

A congressional investigation later found that by April 2021, approximately 42% of the plant’s workforce, or 1,674 of its 3,969 employees, had contracted COVID-19, although that also includes infections reported during a virus wave in the area in late 2020.

OSHA later issued a single subpoena to the company for failing to protect employees from COVID-19 hazards at the facility.

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In its settlement with the agency, Smithfield pledged to continue using its current COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and to work with company and outside experts to review its plants’ operating procedures and develop an infectious disease preparedness plan.

“The terms of this settlement are intended to ensure that Smithfield employees receive the training and protective measures necessary to protect them from exposure to infectious diseases at their facilities,” OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous said in a press release. “What happened in this facility was tragic and we need to ensure that all steps in the agreement are followed to prevent another massive outbreak.”