WATERLOO LEGISLATORS AGAIN QUESTION OSHA STANDARDS AT PORK PROCESSING FACILITIES

WATERLOO, IA—State legislators from Waterloo are raising concerns about OSHA standards at pork processing facilities located in Waterloo and across the state.

“We’ve again heard numerous complaints about the way workers at the facilities are being treated,” said State Rep. Timi Brown-Powers and Waterloo health care provider. “As we continue to learn how COVID is spread, OSHA must make the fair decision to change their stance on how or when workers were infected with COVID. As a health care provider on the front lines working at the COVID clinic, I see the many Iowans who are becoming infected due to lack of standards at these facilities. OSHA should step up to do right by these families that have been affected and also prevent any additional outbreaks in the future.”

The letter sent to OSHA by State Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, along with State Rep. Ras Smith and State Senator Bill Dotzler states that Iowa OSHA is failing to take reasonable steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future illness and death.

Iowa is the nation’s leading pork producer and has about a dozen large-scale meat processing plants. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report studying the impact of COVID-19 on workers at meat processing plants found that 87% of people infected were racial or ethnic minorities even though they make up 61% of the overall worker population. To date, at least 86 workers have died from COVID-19.  However, the State of Iowa did not contribute COVID-related meat processing plant data to the CDC, although many of Iowa’s meat processing plants continue to experience COVID cases.

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THE LETTER IS BELOW:

Kimberly Stille, Regional Administrator for Region VII OSHA

Region 7 (Kansas City) Regional Office

Two Pershing Square Building, 2300 Main Street, Suite 1010
Kansas City, MO 64108

The purpose of this letter is to file a complaint about State Program Administration (CASPA) Standard number: 1954.20 for the state of Iowa.  The failure of the State of Iowa to properly implement the OSHA act denies the workers already injured or killed by COVID at the Tyson plant in Waterloo Iowa justice, but also denies the existing workforce safety from known hazards.  Given the aggressive action by OSHA at the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls South Dakota, the failure of Iowa OSHA to act treats the workers in a similar works sites capricious and arbitrary.  Our initial complaint was written under the General Duty Clause given the airborne infectious standard had been killed a few years back yet Iowa OSHA only inspected under the standards and found no violations, how they failed to use 1910.134 is an example of the inadequate inspection performed given long term knowledge COVID was transmitted via mist particles and vapors given off in breathing.  IOSHA stated they do not use the general duty clause because it is difficult to use in court proceedings, we are not talking court but worksites. No violation in the largest meatpacking operation in the world shows how political the inspection was.  This pattern of willfully inadequate inspections is a hallmark of Iowa OSHA replicating in places like Columbus junction and Storm Lake Iowa. This complaint covers one of Iowa largest industries and a significant portion of Iowa’s workforce.  Community health tracing data proves these plants were significantly infected by a known hazard COVID and the employer’s failed to take reasonable steps in the face of this known hazard.  In the face of overwhelming community health evidence pointing to the Tyson Facility it is wrong to make the workers prove individually that it was the employer.  With this threat growing, Iowa OSHA’s proven failure to properly implement the OSHA act of 1972 during the COVID pandemic will result in large numbers of workers exposed to unneeded suffering and even death.  Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

State Rep. Timi Brown-Powers

 

CC:

State Rep. Ras Smith

State Senator Bill Dotzler