A United States congressional panel is reportedly inspecting nearly three large meatpacking firms for worker-safety defilements in relation to reports claiming that hundreds of workers have died of coronavirus infection, as per an official statement made by subcommittee on Monday.

The House of Representatives’ coronavirus subcommittee has asked Smithfield Foods Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., and JBS USA to hand in records of complaints, inspections, as well as other internal documents.

The panel further asked the U.S. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the workplace safety watchdog of the nation, to provide records of its efforts to impose rules for workers safety.

Meatpacking plants had emerged as early hubs of COVID-19 infections last spring, forcing most of them to close temporarily, which pushed the prices of meat up considerably. Firms placed physical barriers and took other essential steps to safeguard workers, however, they were not able to eradicate the risk of COVID-19 infection.

In April, the then U.S. President, Donald Trump instructed meat processing plants to remain open in order to protect the food supply of the U.S., in spite of concerns regarding COVID-19 spread.

Neighboring communities were also badly affected. As per the National Academy of Sciences, meatpacking plants were linked with approximately 236,000 COVID-19 cases and around 5,200 deaths as of July.

In fact, the labor unions as well as workers have accused the firms for taking insufficient steps to safeguard workers.

JBS, Tyson, and Smithfield stated that they have spent nearly hundreds of millions of dollars on bonuses, workers safety, as well as other measures. All the three firms are ready to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

James Clyburn, the U.S. Representative and chairman of the coronavirus subcommittee, stated that it is essential that the inadequacies of the previous Administration are quickly identified as well as remedied to save lives in the months before the COVID-19 vaccinations are available for all U.S. citizens.

OSHA responded that more strict safety guidelines presented to employers on Friday were one of the first steps in its efforts to work with Congress on protection of workers.

Source credit: https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL1N2K71OY