WASHINGTON – On Oct. 26, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that two facilities for JBS USA and Conagra Brands Inc. were fined for coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic violations.
The JBS facility in Green Bay, Wis., was fined $13,494 for several violations including employees working too close together in April and not developing mitigation measures for the virus.
"Employees working at tables 1-6 of the Fabrication department worked in close proximity to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic," OSHA stated in its findings. "These conditions allowed the perpetuation of an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility."
OSHA said that JBS did not develop and implement timely and effective member protocols between April 9 and April 17. The agency found that 147 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of the 1,265 employees.
Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, released the following statement to media outlets regarding the citation.
"The OSHA citation is entirely without merit," Bruett said. "It attempts to impose a standard that did not exist in March as we fought the pandemic with no guidance. When OSHA finally provided guidance in late April, our previously implemented preventive measures largely exceeded any of their recommendations."
JBS was previously fined $15,615 in September for similar violations at its Greeley, Colo., plant.
Later in the list of OSHA citations, a Conagra Brands facility in Marshall, Mo., was fined $2,121 for record keeping violations. In April, the facility suspended operations after more than 20 people tested positive for COVID-19.