OSHA issues new COVID-19 guidance for meatpacking plants

The expanse of JBS pork processing plant sits at the northeast corner of Worthington, Minn., September 4, 2019. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post) (Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post/Getty Images / Getty Images)

As COVID-19 forces plants in Minnesota and across the country to slow production or shut down, OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control have issued new guidance for plants.

In Minnesota, JBS USA, the largest pork production plant in the state, has closed indefinitely due to a coronavirus outbreak.

In interim guidance released on Sunday, the federal government is directing plants on steps for screening employees, cleaning shared equipment, using protective gear, and social distancing at work.

In a statement, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt said it's crucial that cokey industries in our food supply stay open and workers stay safe.

“As essential workers, those in the meatpacking and processing industries need to be protected from coronavirus for their own safety and health,” said Sweatt. “OSHA’s newest guidance document outlines steps employers can take to provide a safe and healthy workplace for workers in the meatpacking and processing industries.”