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Meatpacking company settles COVID-19 workplace allegations

June 3, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A national meatpacking company with a facility in Green Bay has agreed to pay about $15,000 to settle allegations of unsafe practices during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic sickened and killed Wisconsin workers.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported Thursday that the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced the settlement last week. The settlement applies to seven JBS Foods USA plants, including the Green Bay facility.

The company closed that plant in late April 2020 after nearly 150 infections were linked to it. The plant reopened about a week later. OSHA said that by mid-August 357 infections had been confirmed at the plant. OSHA cited the plant in October 2020 on grounds that the company didn’t implement timely and effective measures to control the disease’s spread.

The agency hailed the settlement as a step toward protecting workers. Jarrett Brown, who worked at the Green Bay plant until early 2020, called the deal a slap on the wrist.

“This is not punishment for them,” Brown said.

JBS officials said in a statement that they’ve established COVID-19 protocols and plan to implement them across their U.S. facilities.