GREELEY, Co. (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Friday that multiple JBS USA plants, including the Swift Beef Co. plant in Cactus, have agreed to develop an infectious disease preparedness plan.
According to a news release from OSHA, this preparedness plan is expected to be implemented at seven of JBS USA’s meat processing plants across the country, including the Swift Beef Co. plant in Cactus. This comes after OSHA cited two of JBS’s plants, including the plants in Greeley, Colorado, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, for “their failures to protect workers from coronavirus hazards.”
“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 OSHA’s Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous. “This settlement will positively impact the safety and health of JBS employees far beyond the two facilities where these inspections occurred.”
Under this agreement, these seven plants will use an updated Safe Work Playbook, helping reduce employee exposure to COVID-19 as well as helping develop the site’s infectious disease preparedness plan. A team of experts are expected to evaluate work areas and other areas where people congregate to help lessen potential exposure to infectious disease.
The team of experts will review existing programs and procedures, as well as provide recommendations regarding ventilation, screening protocols and cleaning, according to the release. Officials will also identify needs, including personal protective equipment, and provide a recommendation on a continuity of operations plan.
“Employers are legally obligated to provide workers with a safe and healthful workplace, and the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to holding employers accountable when they fail to do so,” said Regional Solicitor John Rainwater, in Dallas. “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 seven facilities will designate a plan administrator at each facility to help monitor and implement the plan, the release said. The other facilities include the ones in Greeley, Colorado, Beardstown, Illinois, Grand Island, Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, Souderton, Pennsylvania, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
A representative from JBS USA provided the following statement to MyHighPlains.com:
“In partnership with OSHA and UFCW, JBS USA is developing an infectious disease preparedness plan to ensure the safety of our team members in the event of future public health emergencies. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we established an internal COVID-19 playbook – which was reviewed by third parties, including epidemiologists, and shared with local businesses and government agencies – that catalogued best practices and provided thorough guidance, protocols and procedures to ensure the protection of our workforce. We welcome this opportunity to strengthen our processes and plan to implement this important resource across our U.S. business.”JBS USA Representative