Reuters reports that Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, and a subcontractor, face fines of more than US$100,000 from California’s workplace safety regulator. The penalties are for failing to protect employees from COVID-19 and other violations during the pandemic.
Chinese-owned Smithfield was hit by federal regulators and others with smaller fines over working conditions during the Covid crisis.
California’s regulator, known as Cal/OSHA, issued “the largest citation at a meatpacking plant nationwide” to Smithfield’s Farmer John plant in Vernon, California, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents meatpacking workers.
More than 315 workers out of 1,800 at the plant contracted COVID-19 since March, with at least three people hospitalized, the union said.
Smithfield and its subcontractor, CitiStaff Solutions, failed to ensure employees used masks and had physical barriers like plexiglass between them to keep them safe, according to Cal/OSHA.