Rep. Axne Demands Immediate Investigation of Iowa OSHA After Reported Perry COVID-19 Complaint Failed to Expose Outbreak

May 18, 2020
Press Release
Axne: “It is essential that we know why it took the public nearly one month to learn of a COVID-19 outbreak after a report was filed”

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) issued the following statement in response to an Associated Press report that the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) failed to thoroughly investigate an employee complaint from the Tyson Foods processing plant in Perry, Iowa – a plant that earlier this month reported more than 700 of its staff had contracted COVID-19.

“Iowans are relying on our public health and safety experts to root out and contain any outbreaks of COVID-19 in our state. I am profoundly distressed at the report that an employee complaint from Perry took nearly 20 days to investigate – and that the end result of that investigation yielded no warnings of the massive outbreak that was reported the following week.

“It is essential that we know why it took the public nearly one month to learn of a COVID-19 outbreak after such a report was filed, and I am demanding an investigation by Iowa OSHA and the State of Iowa that publicly lays out the process by which these complaints are vetted.

“If complaints of improper COVID-19 protections are not taken seriously, investigated swiftly, and inspected thoroughly – then any attempt to reopen our economy poses an intolerable risk to the health and wellbeing of Iowa’s workers and their families.”

According to the report, Iowa OSHA closed the case related to the employee complaint on April 28th without inspecting the plant in Perry.

On May 5, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that 58% percent of the factory’s workforce had tested positive for COVID-19.