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Cal/OSHA issues $400,000 fine to food plants for COVID violations


The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health slapped a food manufacturer and its staffing company with more than $400,000 in combined penalties for allegedly failing to protect workers at two plants from COVID-19, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

Cal/OSHA claimed that Overhill Farms Inc. and its temporary employment agency Jobsource North America Inc. failed to take steps to protect workers from coronavirus infection at two frozen food plants in Vernon, California.

The agency opened an investigation into the plants after receiving complaints of COVID-19 hazards, allegedly found that hundreds of workers were potentially exposed to COIVD at the cart where they donned gloves and coats, in the break room, on the conveyer line and during packing operations. 

Cal/OSHA accused the companies of failing to install barriers or implement social distancing procedures and failed to investigate any of its employee’s coronavirus infections, which included more than 20 illnesses and one death.

The fine includes $222,075 in proposed penalties to Overhill Farms and $214,080 in proposed penalties.

Overhill was also fined $103,780 by Cal/OSHA for two February accidents stemming from an incident in which workers were injured when their hands were caught in unguarded conveyor parts.

Miguel Miranda, the vice president of operations at Jobsource, said the staffing firm has taken and continues to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID.

“We intend to dispute these recent citations that have been issued by Cal/OSHA involving just a small portion of the vendors, clients, associates, and employees that make up our Jobsource family,” he said.

Overhill Farms could not immediately be reached for comment.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.