At Seaboard Foods in Guymon, Oklahoma, management failed to properly document worker injuries and illnesses on at least 51 occasions over a period of two months in early 2022, according to a citation issued Friday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The new citation comes just weeks after OSHA reached a settlement with Seaboard Foods, forcing the company to make changes to the Guymon plant to better protect workers from ergonomic hazards.
Investigate Midwest reported in September that Seaboard Foods employees who perform the grueling labor of cutting and packaging pork said management ignored their injuries. On many occasions, employees who got hurt at work were punished or fired for taking time off to recover.
A spokesperson for Seaboard Foods said Thursday the company plans to contest the citation.
“We disagree with OSHA’s allegations, and we plan to defend our recordkeeping processes,” he said. “The health and safety of Seaboard Foods employees is our priority. We continue to follow CDC COVID-19 guidance and make investments to create a safe and healthy workplace.”
The workers’ union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2, filed a complaint in April 2021 alleging that Seaboard Foods underreported injuries and illnesses to OSHA, especially coronavirus cases. Despite acknowledging more than 1,000 infections among its workers to news media, the company listed few work-related illnesses in its end-of-year report to OSHA.
A Seaboard Foods spokesperson told Investigate Midwest in September that "all injuries or illnesses that meet the definition of an OSHA recordable have been logged."
But the new OSHA citation tells a different story.
The citation is split into four items, each describing a different category of recordkeeping violations.
The first item cites 11 instances over two weeks in January in which Seaboard Foods failed to record work-related illnesses among its employees.
The second item lists 20 examples spanning one week in March in which the company failed to completely fill out an OSHA form documenting injuries and illnesses. In all 20 instances, Seaboard omitted where in the plant the injury or illness occurred.
The third item describes 20 instances in January in which Seaboard Foods did not record a worker’s injury or illness resulting in days away from work within the required 7 days.
The last item states that the person who signed off on the company’s 2021 injury and illness log as the “company executive” did not meet OSHA’s criteria for a company executive.
Each citation carries a $7,000 fine. Seaboard Foods will have to pay $28,000 in fines unless the company contests the citations.
UPDATED: This story was updated Thursday to include comment from Seaboard Foods.
Top image: Seaboard Foods in Guymon, Oklahoma, on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. photo by Madison McVan, Investigate Midwest