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OSHA fines Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls for failing to protect employees from COVID-19 exposure

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Smithfield plant, SD COVID-19 cases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KTIV) -- Federal regulators have cited Smithfield Foods for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus at the company’s Sioux Falls plant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on Thursday Smithfield Packaged Meat Corp. would be fined $13,494, the maximum allowed by law.

OSHA has cited the company for one violation of the general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm.

According to an inspection by OSHA, in the spring of 2020, at least 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted the virus and four employees died due to the virus.

“Employers must quickly implement appropriate measures to protect their workers’ safety and health,” said OSHA Sioux Falls Area Director Sheila Stanley. “Employers must meet their obligations and take the necessary actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus at their worksite.”

Smithfield Foods, which is based in Virginia, says it plans to contest the citation and the $13,494 fine.

Back in April, the Sioux Falls plant became the top COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. The plant was closed for 14 days after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and the mayor of Sioux Falls urged the company to suspend operations.

You can read the full report from the U.S. Department of Labor here.

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Dean Welte

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