Saturday, September 05, 2020

Tyson plans clinics at some plants for workers and families

"Tyson Foods is planning to open medical clinics at several of its U.S. plants to improve the health of its workers and better protect them from the coronavirus," The Associated Press reports.

The company, "which processes about 20% of all beef, pork and chicken in the U.S., said its plan to open the clinics near its plants was in the works before the coronavirus struck this year," Josh Funk writes. Tyson said it would set up seven clinics early next year, but only mentioned two locations: Storm Lake, Iowa, and Holcomb, Kansas. The clinics will also be open to workers' families.

"Tyson is joining a long list of companies that have clinics on or near their worksites or bring in physicians to ensure employees receive annual physicals," Funk reports. "Companies say having clinics can reduce health-insurance costs by cutting out unnecessary emergency-room visits and helping better manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. It can also improve productivity because employees don’t have to take as much time off for doctor’s appointments."

Johanna Söderström, Tyson’s chief human resources officer, said the clinics will help educate workers about the virus and deal with conditions that could make it more dangerous. "Meatpacking plant workers have been particularly susceptible to the coronavirus because they often stand shoulder-to-shoulder carving up meat," Funk notes. "At least 17,700 meatpacking workers in the U.S. have been infected or exposed to the virus and 115 have died, the United Food and Commercial Workers said. Earlier this summer, the families of three Tyson workers in Iowa who died from COVID-19 sued the company, saying it knowingly put employees at risk in the early days of the pandemic."

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