Iowa Premium Beef has been ordered to pay a $957 fine after hundreds of workers fell ill to COVID-19. The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citation – the first to a meat plant – for a minor record-keeping violation.
The coronavirus outbreak in April at the Iowa Premium Beef plant in Tama, IA, resulted in 338 of its 850 workers testing positive. That’s 80 more than the state had previously reported, according to inspection records released this week.
OSHA’s Iowa division announced in June it had launched inspections at the Tama plant and four other meatpacking plants where COVID-19 outbreaks had occurred. The inspections did not lead to any citations at the other four meat plants - Tyson Foods plants in Waterloo, Columbus Junction and Perry and the JBS plant in Marshalltown.
The agency cited Iowa Premium Beef in August for failing to keep a required log of workplace-related injuries and illnesses, and for failing to provide the document within four hours after inspectors requested it. Both violations were labeled “other-than-serious.”
In a settlement approved on Sept. 2, OSHA reduced the proposed fine from $1,914 to $957 and the company also agreed to correct the violations.