Eight Ways to Protect Meat Processing Workers from COVID-19

A meatpacking worker performs her job wearing personal protective equipment.

Protecting the safety and health of essential workers who support America’s food security—including the meat, poultry, and pork processing industries—is a top priority for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued additional guidance to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and keep workers safe and healthy in the meatpacking and meat processing industries —including those involved in beef, pork, and poultry operations.

This new guidance provides specific recommendations for employers to meet their obligations to protect workers in these facilities, where people normally work closely together and share workspaces and equipment.

Here are eight ways to help minimize meat processing workers’ exposure to the coronavirus:

  • Screen workers before they enter the workplace.
  • If a worker becomes sick, send them home and disinfect their workstation and any tools they used.
  • Move workstations farther apart.
  • Install partitions between workstations using strip curtains, plexiglass, or similar materials.
  • To limit spread between groups, assign the same workers to the same shifts with the same coworkers.
  • Prevent workers from using other workers’ equipment.
  • Allow workers to wear face coverings when entering, inside, and exiting the facility.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns to their supervisors.

OSHA is committed to ensuring that workers and employers in essential industries have clear guidance to keep workers safe and healthy from the coronavirus—including guidance for essential workers in construction, manufacturing, package delivery, and retail.

Workers and employers who have questions or concerns about workplace safety can contact OSHA online or by phone at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).

You can find additional resources and learn more about OSHA’s response to the coronavirus at www.osha.gov/coronavirus.


Loren Sweatt is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration


Editor’s Note: It is important to note that information and guidance about COVID-19 continually evolve as conditions change. Workers and employers are encouraged to regularly refer to the resources below for updates:

Wed, 04/29/2020 – 10:30

A meatpacking worker performs her job wearing personal protective equipment.

Loren Sweatt


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