Foster Farms fined $174,275 after deadly COVID-19 outbreak in Merced County

Nearly 400 workers at the Livingston facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 since last fall, and at least 9 have died.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California's workplace safety agency has imposed massive fines on Foster Farms for several severe violations it committed during and after a coronavirus outbreak at facilities in Livingston last year.

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at Livingston Foster Farms facility, health officials say

The company received a total of 12 violations from Cal/OSHA last week for COVID-related problems and the agency has proposed a total of $174,275 in fines for violations such as failing to ensure proper physical distancing, not providing effective face coverings and not communicating effectively.

The violations cover issues in the meat processing plant and refrigerated warehousing and storage areas.

Employees were seen working, eating, drinking and interacting closer than six feet from each other in their workspaces and break rooms, according to Cal/OSHA's report.

Action News reached out to Foster Farms, which declined to comment on the citations by Cal/OSHA.

Nearly 400 workers at the Merced County facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 since last fall, and at least nine have lost their lives.

County public health officials said that the workplace outbreak was the worst in Merced County and one of the deadliest in the state, and ordered the facility to temporarily shut down operations in September.

RELATED: 'They don't care about the workers': Foster Farms employee at Livingston plant says he's scared to go back

Among the violations by Foster Farms cited by Cal/OSHA, the agency says the company:

  • Failed to provide or implement the use of effective face coverings, ensure adequate physical distancing, and provide effective physical barriers among employees
  • Failed to properly record all COVID-19 illnesses and deaths among its employees
  • Failed to effectively communicate about COVID-19 in the workplace, including infections, outbreaks, exposures, and fatalities
  • Failed to hold meetings, training programs, posting, and communicating in other forms in ways and languages for its employees

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