OSHA received its first complaints about meatpacking plants almost a full year ago, on March 17, 2020. At two plants in North Carolina, people were elbow-to-elbow, with no change in operations, according to OSHA data. 

The two plants would eventually have confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks. (Both complaints were closed, and OSHA has not fined either plant.)

Those complaints heralded a steady stream related to the meatpacking industry, which pressured the federal government to keep plants open while workers fell ill and died. And while most of the complaints came in April and March, OSHA has continued to field them. 

The latest was Feb. 21, the latest day data was available. (Focused on a plant in Minnesota, the case has already been closed by OSHA.)

Note: Not all days are shown in the below graphic because OSHA didn’t receive complaints on all days. Hover over the line to see the number of complaints on a given day.

DATA ANALYSIS: The data comes from OSHA’s weekly COVID-19 complaint data, which is published on the agency’s website. The graphic combines complaints that remain open and that are closed. OSHA tracks the NAICS code for the primary business involved in the complaint, and the site-specific NAICS code for the involved business. Only the primary NAICS code was used in the analysis. The data is from March 17, 2020, to Feb. 21, 2021.

Type of work:

Sky Chadde has covered the agriculture industry for Investigate Midwest since 2019 and spent much of 2020 focused on the crisis of COVID-19 in meatpacking plants, which included collecting and analyzing...

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