State inspection at Tyson’s Waterloo Plant finds no violations

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 5:18 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - Certified Safety and Health Official’s for the Iowa Division of Labor found no violations at Tyson’s Waterloo Plant, where at least 25% of their staff tested positive for COVID-19.

According to documents I9 received through a public records request, the inspection occurred two days before Tyson chose to voluntarily suspend operations at it’s Waterloo Plant on April 22nd.

Ras Smith, who is a state representative from Waterloo and filed a complaint against Tyson, said he doesn’t understand how there are no violations and called the report “garbage.”

“I mean I guess that’s just the question for me right?,” he said. “If on this date if our complaint was not valid why did they need to stop operations completely. Why were people getting sick at an exponential rate?”

The Waterloo plant, which is Tyson’s largest pork plant, has 2,800 employees. Black Hawk County health officials said it identified over 1,000 workers who tested positive for COVID-19 in May.

The inspection report said it observed four workers who were within six feet of each other with no barriers between the workers. Tyson told inspectors it was still in the process of installing barriers, according to documents. On the ham line, according to documents, inspectors saw workers working in higher density areas, but with barriers.

According to documents, inspectors saw every employee wearing cloth masks, surgical masks, N95 masks or bandanas as face coverings.

The inspection report also lists changes at the Waterloo facility to prevent employees from being exposed to COVID-19. Thos include

  • Face masks were provided and employees were encouraged to use them on April 6th
  • Face masks were required for employees on April 14th
  • Restricting visitor access to the facility on March 16
  • Began checking employees temperatures entering the facility on March 16 and installed a thermal imaging camera on March 28th

The Iowa Workforce Development said the inspection was in accordance with federal OSHA and CDC COVID-19 guidance. The department also sadi cloth coverings as a protective measure in addition to social distancing is a recommended CDC practice.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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