In this file:
· Regulators sat on complaint as outbreak at Iowa pork plant grew
· ‘It’s shameful’: Iowa state safety regulators sat on complaint as outbreak at plant grew
· Senators urge USDA enforcement of federal safety guidelines at meat plants
Regulators sat on complaint as outbreak at Iowa pork plant grew
via KETV Omaha (NE) - May 18, 2020
PERRY, Iowa — Regulators declined to inspect an Iowa pork plant after receiving a complaint alleging insufficient efforts were being made to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
One state senator says that decision failed workers and allowed an outbreak to grow. An April 11 complaint to the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration says employees at the Tyson Foods plant in Perry, Iowa, worked “elbow to elbow” and that social distancing was near impossible.
Records show Iowa OSHA waited nine days before contacting Tyson, which took eight days to respond. The agency...
‘It’s shameful’: Iowa state safety regulators sat on complaint as outbreak at plant grew
By Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press
via St. Louis Today (MO) - May 18, 2020
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Safety regulators declined to inspect an Iowa pork plant after receiving a complaint alleging workers were exposed to the coronavirus in crowded conditions — a decision that critics said allowed a burgeoning outbreak to grow unabated.
An April 11 complaint to the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleged that employees at the Tyson Foods processing plant in Perry, Iowa, were spreading the virus as they worked “elbow to elbow.” The complaint asserted that social distancing wasn’t taking place in any of the production areas or the cafeteria.
Workers and regulators had reason to be alarmed. The Tyson plant in Columbus Junction had been idled days earlier due to a coronavirus outbreak that infected hundreds of workers and was rerouting some of its hogs to Perry for slaughter. Other meat plants nationwide were reporting outbreaks and closures.
But Iowa OSHA took nine days to seek a response from Tyson, and eight more to get one, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press under the open records law. The agency determined April 28 that Tyson’s voluntary efforts were “satisfactory" and closed the case without inspecting the plant.
State Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Waterloo Democrat, said Monday that the agency's handling of the complaint failed vulnerable workers who were facing a choice between risking their health and keeping their jobs.
“It’s shameful when you think about the amount of people that have become additionally infected," Dotzler said. “They should have been in there and taken a look at what was going on, instead of asking an offender if they did something wrong."
Gov. Kim Reynolds asserted April 17 that Iowa OSHA was being proactive in protecting meatpacking workers and that "all complaints are being investigated.”
She said Monday that she didn't know how the Tyson complaint was handled but that state employees are working hard to protect residents.
“But, you know, there are times we fall short,” she said...
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Senators urge USDA enforcement of federal safety guidelines at meat plants
By Julie Harker, Brownfield
May 18, 2020
A group of U.S. Senate Democrats is urging Ag Secretary Perdue to have USDA institute a plan for monitoring and enforcing CDC and OSHA guidance to ensure workers are safe as meat plants reopen.
The senators say they recognize the importance of keeping plants running but the president’s executive order has put pressure on plants to reopen and that USDA is not taking measures to make sure plants are operating consistent with federal safety guidance.
Their letter cites a recent USDA briefing with Senate Ag Committee staff in which USDA officials could not confirm if the plants that reopened since the Executive order have done so in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance...