The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the Iowa Premium Beef Plant a $ 957 fine after hundreds of its employees contracted COVID-19 earlier this year.
The meat packing facility was also not cited for health and safety violations – the fine was imposed for non-“serious” violations where a required record of workplace injuries and illnesses was not kept and no such record was made four hours of which was requested by regulators.
The Associated Press was one of the first to report on the OSHA’s fine, citing the inspection records released Thursday. The AP added that OHSA originally fined the company $ 1
The Iowa Premium Beef Plant in Tama was temporarily shut down for two weeks in April after workers started reporting diseases. Subsequent tests, conducted by the state’s Department of Health, revealed that 338 employees had contracted COVID-19, although the department only reported that 258 employees were sick and later attributed the discrepancy to incorrect records.
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Iowa OSHA soon faced backlash in terms of handling the inspection and responding to the outbreak.
On May 21, six weeks later after the formwork was set up and production resumed at the plant, Iowa OSHA inspectors observed Iowa Premium Beef Plant employees working in the immediate vicinity without plastic barriers. The plant installed such barriers later by April 20 and “where possible”, according to the AP. At the time, the company also urged employees to wear surgical masks, take temperature tests, and postpone their breaks.
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Nonetheless, Tim Klein, the CEO of National Beef, who owns the facility, applauded the company on Wednesday for “quickly adapting our processes and protocols to improve security,” the AP said.
Iowa regulators also inspected four other meat packers that reported significant outbreaks, but did not issue any further quotes, the outlet reported.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.