Smithfield Foods Asking Court to Intervene with OSHA Request for Employee COVID Data

July 6, 2020
The pork processor has asked a U.S. court for help in keeping OSHA from COVID data and documents related to employees at the South Dakota plant.

Smithfield Foods is hoping a U.S. court can keep the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration from obtaining documents related to employee illness reports at the company's South Dakota plant.

According to a report, the South Dakota Department of Health was served a subpoena June 23, with OSHA seeking records relating to an outbreak at the Sioux Falls, SD plant. At the time, the plant, which was closed in April, accounted for 54% of the Covid-19 cases in the county where the plant is located.  The report adds that OSHA is asking to see data pertaining to on potential Covid-19 clusters, Department of Health recommendations, as well as interviews with workers.

Smithfield Foods, however, is challenging OSHA's request. According to its court filing, “The subpoena raises significant public policy implications relevant to the nation’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and, if enforced without limitation or procedural safeguards, will undoubtedly chill critical collaborations between essential employers and public health agencies going forward."

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