Workers Comp for COVID-19 at Meat Processing Facility
Cal/OSHA is the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). It is tasked with protecting and improving the health and safety of working men and women in California. This month (December 2020) Cal/OSHA cited eight meat processing facilities for not protecting workers from COVID-19.
Cal/OSHA conducted the inspections after receiving several tips and complaints about one COVID-19 fatality, and several illnesses related to the coronavirus, at multiple meat packing plants across the State of California.
The meat processing facilities were cited and fined for failure to take the required steps to prevent COVID-19 infection in the workplace – including safe physical distancing, and proper face covering usage for employees in the production areas.
The chief of Cal/OSHA, Doug Parker, was quoted as announcing: “Enforcement of COVID-19 protections at meatpacking and food processing facilities has been a priority of Cal/OSHA given the high rates of positive cases and alarming number of deaths among food processing workers.”
He went on to explain that these citations were only “a portion of our enforcement efforts” in the meat packing industry. Going on to say that “More citations will be issued when violations are identified, and inspections are closed.”
Meat Processing Employers Cited for COVID-19 Violations
The initial meat packing plants cited by Cal/OSHA for COVID-19 violations were:
- Smithfield Foods, Inc.
- Central Valley Meat Holding Company dba Central Valley Meat Co.
- OWB Packers, LLC dba One World Beef
- California Farms Meat Company, Inc.
- CLW Foods, LLC Meat processing
Three temporary staffing companies that also supply employees to the meat processing industry were also cited and fined for COVID-19 violations. These include:
- California Enterprises Employment, Inc.,
- HR Staffing Solutions Inc.,
- CitiStaff Solutions
Penalties for COVID-19 Workplace Exposure
The proposed penalties for the COVID_19 related violations ranged from $11,700 to $58,100 per employer. The individual violations included:
Smithfield Foods, Inc. – Vernon, CA (300 COVID-19 illnesses; three hospitalizations)
- Failure to ensure workers used face coverings properly in production areas & on breaks.
- Failure to provide effective instruction on how COVID-19 is spread.
- Failure to provide effective training on how to disinfect areas properly.
Central Valley Meat Co. – Hanford, CA
- Failure to inform employees of possible exposure when coworkers were infected with COVID-19
- Failure to provide face coverings and ensure their use.
One World Beef Packer – Brawley, CA (several employees hospitalized for COVID-19, 1 death)
- Failure to provide workers with protective barriers
- Employees working too close to each other
- Failure to report serious illnesses and fatality in the eight-hour time limit as required by
California Farms Meat Company – Vernon, CA
- Not implementing physical distancing procedures
- Failure to install barriers in the meat production area
- Operating meat processing machines within close distance of each other
Collecting Workers Comp for COVID-19 in a Meat Processing Facility
Many employees who have contracted COVID-19 have sought our attorneys help to collect workers’ comp if they contract the coronavirus at work. And, unfortunately, employees of meat processing facilities have been put at unnecessarily high risk for COVID-19 exposure.
If you work for a meat processing facility in California, your employer is required by law to protect workers from COVID-19 – following Cal/OSHA guidelines and the COVID-19 Prevention Program resources. And, if a worker is able to prove that their COVID-19 is work-related they are eligible for workers’ comp due to the coronavirus. And, Governor Newsom has released an Executive Order that now makes it easier for employees to collect workers comp for coronavirus (Covid-19).
Workers Comp Attorney for COVID-19 in a Meat Processing Facility
But, proving that your coronavirus is work-related can present some problems for sick employees. in addition to employers and workers comp insurers trying to deny many COVID-19 claims, there are also certain other exceptions that may prevent a worker from collecting workers comp for COVID-19. If you were made ill in the workplace by COVID-19, or anything else, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers comp attorney immediately.
The caring and skilled attorneys at Cantrell Green can make sure that you receive the workers comp benefits for which you qualify now, and as long as you need them while your recover. Your consultation with our workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer, nor your insurance company, will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.
Meat Processing Workers Comp Attorneys: 800-964-8047
Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734).