Why Are Meat & Poultry Processing Workers at Risk for COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released guidelines for workers in the meat and poultry packing industry because of their risk for exposure to coronavirus.
The CDC states that the following factors place these workers at risk:
- They often work close to each other on processing lines
- They spend prolonged amounts of time near their coworkers
- They often share equipment and contact the same surfaces repeatedly throughout the day
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 at meat and poultry processing plants, the CDC has also provided guidelines for employers.
The CDC suggests the following for meat and poultry processing plants:
- Keep employees six feet apart
- Ensure that workers have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Designate workers to monitor and facilitate distancing practices
- Make sure employees sanitize their hands regularly
- Avoid having workers work directly across from each other on the line
- Provide protective barriers if workers do work across from each other
The Logansport, Indiana Tyson Plant COVID-19 Outbreak
In March 2020, experts expressed concern that the nation’s meat processing plants were at particular risk of severe COVID-19 outbreaks. They noted workers couldn’t afford to take time off because food industry giants such as Tyson, a company with an estimated net worth of over $22 billion, do not provide its workers with paid sick leave. In a comment to ProPublica, Tyson said that only a “limited number of team members” had tested positive for the disease. However, by April 22, the Tyson meat processing plant in Logansport, Indiana was shut down.
The reason? Nearly 900 of the plant’s 2,200 workers had tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite stating that only a handful of its workers tested positive for coronavirus, the company was forced to shut down the Logansport plant because 40% of its workforce contracted a serious virus. In other words: Tyson did not take the pandemic seriously and wasn’t providing a safe work environment for employees. Workers at the plant have claimed that it was clear that something was wrong for weeks as more and more of their coworkers started to get sick. As of May 1, 2020, Tyson is following through with plans to reopen its Logansport plant.
Other Tyson Plants Have Had Serious COVID-19 Outbreaks
In Black Hawk County, Iowa, the Tyson Fresh Meats plant has had 44% of its workers test positive for COVID-19 as of April 27, 2020. The plant employs about 2,700 workers, meaning that it accounts for approximately 1,211 of the county’s 1,346 cases of COVID-19. With the most COID-19 cases in Iowa, county officials are attributing their area’s struggle with the virus to the Tyson Fresh Meats plant. Tyson workers account for 90% of the county’s coronavirus cases.
Are Employers Required to Protect Workers from COVID-19?
According the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), employers must provide their employees with a safe work environment. If they fail to do so, they are liable for any injuries sustained by an employee.
OSHA requires employers to do the following:
- Provide needed protective equipment to workers
- Report injuries and illness
- See copies of a workplace injury and illness log
- Receive copies of test results to find hazards in the workplace
What is happening at Tyson meat processing plants and at other locations around the nation is unacceptable. There is a clear pattern at Tyson facilities that shows one thing: the company is not following its legal and ethical obligation to protect its employees. No one should be forced to go into work after nearly half of their coworkers have contracted a serious illness.
Our Tyson Foods Coronavirus Lawyers find answers, no matter what
At Arnold & Itkin, we’re proud to be the difference makers for the people that turn to us for help. For years, we’ve fought to protect workers and other clients suffering from the reckless behavior of other people and companies. In fact, we recently shattered records by obtaining an $8 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies. When people come to us for help, we fight for the results they need and deserve.
We bring up our history of results because it means one thing for our clients: the chance to find answers for what happened to them, no matter what. Our team is proud of our ability to take on giants. It gives us the chance to help regular people find the restoration that they deserve; even if it seems as though the odds are stacked against them. Best of all, help from our firm is attainable. We only collect a fee if we win results for you.
If you contracted COVID-19 at a Tyson Foods plant, call us. Dial (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation to learn your options.