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Whitmer signs order outlining safety guidelines for meat processing plants

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 3:54 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - According to the governor’s office, Governor Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-145 which outlines workplace safety guidelines for meatpacking plants to keep employees safe.

“Meatpacking plants — where employees work in very close quarters — has proven to be a hotspot for COVID-19 infections in other states, which is why it’s important for these facilities to space employees out and ensure they have the proper Personal Protective Equipment to keep themselves and their families safe,” Governor Whitmer said. “By implementing these science-backed safety guidelines we can help avoid the sharp upticks in COVID-19 cases states in the south and west are experiencing now.”

“Ensuring the health and safety of the people who work in Michigan’s meat and poultry processing plants is critical to preserving the integrity of the state’s food supply chain,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell. “I want to thank Governor Whitmer for her commitment to protecting the viability Michigan’s food and agriculture industry and protecting our front line workers during these uncertain times.”

According to the order, under Executive Order 2020-145, meat and poultry processing plants must:

  • Conduct a daily entry screening protocol for employees, contractors, suppliers, and any other individuals entering the facility.
  • Configure communal work environments so employees are spaced at least six feet apart in all directions 
  • Require employees to wear a face covering whenever present at the facility, except when removal is necessary to eat or drink.
  • Provide clean cloth face coverings or disposable mask options for employees to use when the coverings become wet, soiled, or otherwise visibly contaminated over the course of a workday.
  • Use face shields in addition to face coverings, as necessary.
  • Install physical barriers — such as strip curtains, plexiglass or other impermeable dividers or partitions — to separate meat and poultry processing employees from each other.
  • Take measures to ensure adequate ventilation in work areas to help minimize employees’ potential exposures.
  • Provide visual cues (e.g., floor markings, signs) as a reminder to employees to maintain social distancing.
  • Reduce processing capacity or modify the processing or production lines and/or stagger workers across shifts to minimize the number of employees in the facility at any one time.
  • Adopt sick leave policies that discourage employees from entering the workplace while sick and modify any incentive programs that penalize employees for taking sick leave.

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