State safety regulators reportedly took their time before investigating a COVID-19 complaint received from the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry, and did not pay the plant a visit.
According to the Associated Press, a complaint was made to the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on April 11th on behalf of the workers at the plant. The complaint alleged the coronavirus was allowed to spread as workers worked “elbow to elbow,” and that no social distancing was taking place in the production area or cafeteria. It reportedly took OSHA nine days before responding to the complaint, and it took eight more days for Tyson to respond to the inquiry. On April 28th, the agency determined that the plants efforts were “satisfactory” and the case was closed without a plant inspection.
A week later, the Iowa Department of Public Health released statistics showing that 58% of the workers at the Perry plant had tested positive for COVID-19 at some point between then and the onset of the outbreak. The Iowa Commissioner of Labor’s Office reported that the complaint was handled according to federal guidelines, which say routine complaints of the virus spread don’t normally result in on-site inspections, in part to protect inspectors. Tyson has maintained that safety precautions were taken during and prior to the outbreak, though plant management acknowledged that social distancing was difficult under the conditions. In a statement, corporate leadership said they installed dividers between workers, were encouraging the use of masks and face shields, and have been routinely taking temperatures of all workers daily since March.
Raccoon Valley Radio will bring you more information on this issue as it becomes official.