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April 20, 2020

James Honerman, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, 651-284-5313
Doug Schultz, Minnesota Department of Health, 612-250-2236
Margaret Hart, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 651-201-6131

New guidance will help worker safety and keep plants open

The state of Minnesota has issued new guidance for the meatpacking industry while the state deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. The new guidance, issued by the departments of Labor and Industry, Health, and Agriculture, will help protect worker safety and keep meatpacking plants and processing facilities open.

"The meatpacking sector is an important part of Minnesota's economy and a critical source for our food supply," said Commissioner Nancy Leppink, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. "They have also been hot spots across the country for COVD-19 transmission. The following guidelines will help ensure Minnesota's meatpacking sector has appropriate measures in place to protect the safety of their employees and continue producing the food necessary to keep our state and nation fed."

"We continue to work closely with our local partners and other state agencies to support and protect the workers and the communities in which they live," said Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Health. "It is important we find ways to address COVID-19 and limit its spread in any setting where it could spread quickly from person to person."

"Minnesota's meatpacking sector is an important market for Minnesota pig and poultry farmers and ensuring the sector can safely operate in these unprecedented times is critical," said Commissioner Thom Petersen, Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "Minnesota's Department of Agriculture is committed to partnering with our fellow agencies in making sure Minnesota workers are protected and can continue their role in feeding the country."

The new guidelines will ensure the meatpacking sector complies with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MNOSHA) standards related to COVID-19. The guidance addresses the following issues:

  • employee and visitor screening;

  •  cleaning and disinfecting;

  • distancing and production, work-shift schedules and work-break schedules;

  • personal protective equipment (PPE) and facial coverings;

  • personnel hygiene and adequate handwashing facilities;

  • communications and training for managers and workers;

  • COVID-19 Business Plan;

  • working remotely; and

  • employment and human resources items.

Due to the spread of COVID-19, the state is also asking meatpacking employers' assistance to assess the spread in Minnesota. The state has requested information from employers about the numbers of employees who have tested positive for the virus along with other COVID-19 related spread information.