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COSH releases “Dirty Dozen” list of worst U.S. employers for 2020

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) releases an annual report of its “dirty dozen” employers. This list is comprised of the worst-ranked U.S. employers based on factors that compromise the health and safety of workers and the community at large. In addition to the worst 12 employers, this year COSH also called out four more employers in their Dishonorable Mention list.

With the current pandemic at the forefront of many people’s minds, this year’s ranking focuses mainly on employers of essential workers. These employers’ restrictive policies and lack of protective action have demonstrated a disregard for worker health – and have led to unnecessary infections and deaths for many workers.

Here are some of the main categories of worst-ranked employers:

Grocery

  • Trader Joe’s: With confirmed COVID-19 exposures and one virus-related employee death, the grocery chain has remained open.
  • Amazon: Hundreds of workers have been injured due to the fast-paced demands for next-day delivery. In addition, there are currently confirmed infections in more than 130 of their warehouses.

Health care

  • American Hospital Association (AHA): COSH rebuked the AHA for actively fighting against healthcare worker protections from the virus.
  • Montefiore Hospital: The Bronx-based campus of this hospital has faced harsh criticism from nurses who claim the hospital has been ineffective at protecting patients and staff from the spread of the virus.

Restaurants

  • National Restaurant Association: This organization has been lobbying against paid sick leave for workers for years – including during the pandemic.
  • Chipotle: While many fast food chains have remained open during the healthcare crisis, Chipotle has been disregarding local laws – and their own policies – regarding paid sick leave.

Meat and seafood production

  • COSH cited four poultry, meat and seafood processing plants in its report: Fieldale Farms, Sea Watch International, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods. Inadequate workplace safety resulted in preventable injuries and deaths before the pandemic. During the pandemic, such industries have also been hot spots for outbreaks. These companies’ poor responses have led to unnecessary infections and deaths.

Workplace safety breaches are unfortunately common – but that does not mean they are acceptable. No worker should ever feel that their employer is jeopardizing their health. Every employer has a legal obligation to do everything they can to create a safe workplace for their employees.

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