September 4, 2020
Tyson Foods will open medical clinics at its US meat plants for workers
United States-based Tyson Foods is set to open medical clinics at a number of its meat plants in the US to boost workers' health and protect them from COVID-19, AP News reported.
The company had planned to open the clinics before the COVID-19 pandemic, but will now help the company's response in preventing the spread of the virus.
The clinic pilot programme covers seven plants and is set to open in early 2021. These include its Storm Lake, Iowa, and Holcomb, Kansas plants and will provide primary care to Tyson Foods' workers and their families.
Johanna Söderström, Tyson's chief human resources officer said the clinics assist in detecting health problems early among workers, especially as many frontline workers do not use their health plan benefits or only look for treatment during a crisis.
Söderström said with the pandemic, the clinics become a tool to educate workers about COVID-19 and address conditions that could spread the virus. Meat plant workers are at a higher risk of getting infected because they are physically close to one another on the production floor.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union welcomes Tyson Foods' plan to open on-site clinics. Mark Lauritsen, the union's food processing and meatpacking division head said JBS and Cargill have on-site clinics at their larger meat plants.
The UFCW said 17,700 workers in the US meatpacking industry have been exposed or infected with COVID-19, with 115 workers dead. Families of three Tyson Foods' workers sued the company earlier this year stating that Tyson Foods' put workers at risk of contracting the virus.
Some of Tyson Foods' measures to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak include supplying protective equipment to workers, creating plastic dividers between workers on the production floor, testing workers' temperatures before entering the plant and hiring hundreds of nurses to test workers for COVID-19 weekly. The company said less than 1% of its workers have COVID-19.
The clinics are free for Tyson Foods' workers and their families for most services, and will be operated by Marathon Health.
- AP News