Food packing industry giant JBS Foods USA will implement an infectious disease preparedness plan for seven of its meat processing facilities, following a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In April and May 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found JBS was responsible for its failure to protect workers from COVID-19 hazards. In the JBS Greeley, Colorado, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, facilities, seven workers died from the virus between April and August 2020.

“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 Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in a press release. “This settlement will positively impact the safety and health of JBS employees far beyond the two facilities where these inspections occurred.”

In JBS’s Greeley location, five deaths and 290 positive cases had occurred by July 2020 following a two-week shut down that began April 13, 2020. By Aug. 21, two workers had died at JBS’s Green Bay plant and there were 357 positive cases.

Swift Beef Co. and JBS Green Bay Inc., two branches of JBS USA, will additionally pay a penalty of $14,502.

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The infectious disease preparedness plan will review the workplace with individuals in the company and third-party experts, and analyze the company’s existing programs, recommend work practice controls, and help identify equipment needs. 

JBS said it is partnering with OSHA and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union to continue developing its COVID-19 playbook. 

"We welcome this opportunity to strengthen our processes and plan to implement this important resource across our U.S. business," JBS stated. 

Full details of the settlement are expected to be available following court approval, which is expected in the coming weeks. 

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