The U.S. Office of Labor cited meat-processing giant Smithfield Packaged Meats for failing to safeguard personnel from exposure to the coronavirus.

At minimum 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted coronavirus, and 4 personnel died from the virus in the spring.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Security and Wellbeing Administration (OSHA) claimed the quotation adopted a coronavirus-associated inspection at the company’s facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was proposing a penalty of $thirteen,494, the greatest authorized by law.

“Employers ought to swiftly put into action appropriate steps to safeguard their workers’ basic safety and health,” OSHA’s Sioux Falls Region Director Sheila Stanley claimed in a assertion. “Employers ought to fulfill their obligations and get the vital steps to avert the unfold of coronavirus at their worksite.”

Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance at Smithfield, claimed the organization took “extraordinary measures” on its own initiative to make sure employee basic safety and the quotation was issued around problems that existed just before OSHA issued tips for the meatpacking market on working with the pandemic.

“This OSHA quotation is wholly with no merit and we prepare to contest it,” Lombardo claimed.

The president of the United Food stuff and Business Personnel Global, Mark Perrone, claimed the wonderful imposed by OSHA was inadequate.

“How considerably is the health, basic safety, and daily life of an critical employee truly worth? Based on the steps of the Trump Administration, clearly not considerably,” Marc Perrone claimed in a assertion. “This so-known as ‘fine’ is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the deal with of the hundreds of American meatpacking workers who have been placing their life on the line to help feed The usa considering the fact that the commencing of this pandemic.”

Smithfield along with Tyson Foods and Cargill shut facilities following they turned virus hotspots.

In April, President Donald Trump declared meat-processing plants crucial infrastructure and purchased them to keep on operations.

Kerem Yucel/AFP through Getty Visuals

coronavirus, COVID-19, OSHA, Smithfield Foods