GREELEY, COLO. — JBS USA has collaborated with the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to develop and implement an infectious disease preparedness plan. The agreement follows citations at Swift Beef Co. in Greeley and JBS Green Bay Inc. in Green Bay for failure to protect workers from COVID-19.
In April 2020, the Greeley plant shut down for 14 days due to a COVID-19 outbreak. OSHA’s investigations attributed the outbreak to five workers’ deaths, 51 hospitalizations and 290 confirmed positive cases.
The JBS Green Bay plant had 147 confirmed positive cases by April 22, 2020. It closed on April 26, 2020, and remained shut down until May 6, 2020. By Aug. 12, 2020, the outbreak led to 357 positive cases and the deaths of two workers.
The new plan will be implemented at seven JBS processing plants. The affected facilities include Swift Beef Co. (Greeley, Colo.), Swift Pork Co. (Beardstown, Ill.), Swift Beef Co. (Grand Island, Neb.), Swift Beef Co. (Omaha, Neb.), JBS Souderton Inc. (Souderton, PA), Swift Beef Co. (Cactus, Texas) and JBS Green Bay Inc. (Green Bay, Wis.).
Swift Beef Co. and JBS Green Bay Inc. will pay an OSHA assessed penalty of $14,502.
“Employers are legally obligated to provide workers with a safe and healthful workplace, and the US Department of Labor is committed to holding employers accountable when they fail to do so,” said John Rainwater, OSHA’s regional solicitor in Dallas, Texas. “Terrible tragedies occurred at JBS facilities in Greeley and Green Bay, and we will ensure that this agreement is in full force to prevent a mass outbreak from happening again.”
The agreement between OSHA and four JBS subsidiaries and affiliates ensures an updated Safe Work Playbook intended to reduce employee exposure to the coronavirus along with an infectious disease preparedness plan. The team of company and third-party experts will evaluate work areas and other common employee spaces to minimize potential exposure to infectious diseases.
The seven JBS facilities will designate a plan administrator at each facility to implement and monitor the plan. JBS is responsible for providing related safety and health training in languages and at literacy levels that the workforce understands.
JBS and authorized employee representatives will evaluate the plan annually.
“This settlement is intended to ensure that, going forward, protective measures are in place to protect workers at these facilities from COVID-19 and from other infectious diseases as well,” said Jennifer Rous, regional administrator in Denver, Colo. “This settlement will positively impact the safety and health of JBS employees far beyond the two facilities where these inspections occurred.”