LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s workplace safety regulator has cited a frozen food manufacturer and its temporary employment agency for failing to protect hundreds of employees from the coronavirus at two Los Angeles area plants.
California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations this month to Overhill Farms and Jobsource North America and proposed over $200,000 in penalties for each company.
Overhill Farms said in a statement that Cal/OSHA's allegations contain “major factual deficiencies” and the company will “strongly contest this report.” Jobsource didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The employers did not take any steps to install barriers or implement procedures to have employees work at least six feet away from each other and they did not investigate any of their employees’ COVID-19 infections, including more than 20 illnesses and, in the case of Overhill Farms, one death,” Cal/OSHA said in a statement Tuesday.
Overhill said in its statement that it has installed more than 140 plexiglass barriers at its facilities.
Cal/OSHA found hundreds of employees at Overhill's two facilities in Vernon were exposed to serious illness from coronavirus due to the lack of physical distancing procedures in areas including the break room, on the conveyor line and during packing operations, officials said.
Overhill Farms produces a variety of frozen food products including “poultry, meat and fish specialties, pastas, soups, sauces, certified organic and vegetarian offerings,” according to its web site.
Food processing facilities have been hotbeds for virus outbreaks. In May more than 150 cases of COVID-19 were reported at a nearby Farmer John plant.