GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — JBS Foods USA has reached a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on a plan to prevent more disease outbreaks at meat processing plants.
The agreement comes after COVID-19 outbreaks at some JBS facilities, including one in Green Bay. According to OSHA, the Green Bay JBS plant closed on April 26, 2020, and remained shuttered until May 6, 2020. By April 22, 2020, 147 positive cases were confirmed. By Aug. 12, 2020, OSHA said 357 positive cases were confirmed and two workers had died of COVID-19.
OSHA also said after a COVID-19 outbreak, the JBS plant in Greeley, Colo., was shut down on April 13, 2020, and reopened 14 days later. By July 30, 2020, OSHA said the outbreak had led to five workers’ deaths, 51 hospitalizations and 290 confirmed positive cases reported.
Following two inspections in April and May 2020, OSHA cited Swift Beef Co. in Greeley and JBS Green Bay Inc. in Green Bay for their failures to protect workers from coronavirus hazards.
Swift Beef Co. and JBS Green Bay Inc. will pay an OSHA assessed penalty of $14,502.
Under the new agreement, OSHA says the JBS subsidiaries and affiliates will use an updated Safe Work Playbook to reduce employee exposure to coronavirus. JBS will work with third-party experts to assess the plants’ operating procedures and develop an infectious disease preparedness plan.
The new plan applies to seven JBS facilities in Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Texas.
According to OSHA, after developing its infectious disease preparedness plan, the seven JBS facilities will designate a plan administrator at each facility to implement and monitor the plan. JBS will ensure that safety and health training will be presented in a way the workforce understands. JBS and authorized employee representatives will also evaluate the plan annually.